Ground was broken last week on a new 13,000-square-foot operational command center at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Nevada National Security Site to consolidate emergency services into a single building.

NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose cut the ribbon for the Mercury 2 building on May 11. The new facility is among those to be built under a plan spanning fiscal years 2022 to 2026 and aimed at modernizing physical infrastructure throughout the NNSA enterprise, Rose said. More than 60 percent of the buildings and other original construction at NNSA sites is “beyond life expectancy,” Rose said.

At Nevada, the NNSA is also in the process of expanding two nearly round-the-clock mining projects to expand one of the NNSA’s zero-yield, nuclear-weapon test sites. The larger of the two projects, the U1a Complex Enhancement Project (UCEP) 20 subproject, an underground laboratory for sub-critical detonations and other experiments, should be complete in late 2027. Once scheduled to be complete by fiscal 2027, the Enhanced Capability for Subcritical Experiments (ECSE) project at the U1a underground complex, which includes installing a sophisticated new X-ray camera to measure explosive plutonium tests, is now slated for completion in late fiscal 2030, according to the NNSA’s fiscal 2024 budget request.

The agency approved the final design for UCEP 20 in mid-2022, about a week before the Honeywell [HON]-led prime contractor at the Nevada Site wrapped up the smaller UCEP 10 project, which was aimed at providing access to the new underground test lab about 1,000 feet beneath the desert.

“In addition to consolidation efforts underway at U1a and the forward area facilities, we are committed to creating a campus-like environment with nine new, modern facilities here in Mercury that will dramatically transform the site in the years to come,” Rose said. “Mercury Building 2 is a big step forward toward achieving this goal. A state-of-the-art 13,000 square foot high-performance sustainable building, it will provide a modern operations command center and emergency operations center capability to the site, including support for Nye County Dispatch, consolidating and reducing the footprint of these critical functions.”

This story first appeared in Defense Daily affiliate publication Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.