The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is seeking $410 million for fiscal 2020 to begin converting a canceled plutonium disposal plant in South Carolina into a factory to produce nuclear-warhead cores, the agency revealed Monday in its detailed 2020 budget request.
The planned Savannah River pit plant will be called the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF), according to the full budget request from the semiautonomous Department of Energy agency.
Assuming approval from Congress, the NNSA said it will use the money for “for conceptual design and pre-Critical Decision (CD)-1 activities” that will turn the former Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility into a factory capable of annually producing 50 plutonium “pits” by 2030.
Critical Decision 1 is the project management milestone in which DOE selects a single preferred means of meeting some goal and roughs out a cost estimate for that approach. A formal cost and schedule baseline follows at the CD-2 milestone. The NNSA did not say in its 2020 budget request when the pit plant might reach CD-2, at which point the agency will have to disclose the project’s estimated cost to Congress.
The NNSA’s detailed justification appeared publicly the day before Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified about the request before the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee.
Elsewhere in the budget, the NNSA requested $745 million to continue building the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. That is about 6 percent, or about $40 million more, than the 2019 budget of roughly $700 million.
The DOE branch is seeking $10 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 to finish work on the low-yield W76-2 submarine-launched, ballistic-missile warhead, according to the 650-plus page congressional budget justification published online late Monday. The funding, if approved, will pay for “completion of production and delivery of all W76-2 warheads,” according to the budget request.
The NNSA finished building the first W76-2, a modified version of the recently refurbished W76-1 warhead, in February. The agency plans to deliver the first warhead to the Navy by Sept. 30.