Los Alamos Makes New Nuclear Trigger | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 85 Issue 28 | p. 28 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 9, 2007

Los Alamos Makes New Nuclear Trigger

Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Homeland Security, Safety

The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration says it has produced the first new replacement pit for a nuclear weapon in 18 years. A pit is a device typically made of plutonium that acts as the trigger for a nuclear weapon. The new pit was built at Los Alamos National Laboratory with support from other labs and is part of NNSA's program to replace pits in U.S. warheads that were damaged during disassembly and inspection of the weapons during the DOE Stockpile Stewardship Program. The new pit will be placed in a W88 warhead; these warheads are used in submarine-launched ballistic missiles. NNSA says it will make about 10 new W88 pits over the next year and has plans to ramp up production to 50 pits per year by 2014 to keep up with warhead certification demands. The last plutonium pits were made in 1989 at the Rocky Flats Plant, in Colorado. The plant was then shut down because of unsafe operations.

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