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Increasing Resilience for International CBRNE Events

Meeting attendees

Ann Lesperance, NSD, recently served on a steering committee for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to develop a workshop for an all-of-government approach to international Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high- yield Explosives (CBRNE) events. Lesperance was also asked to moderate one of two panels on capabilities and capacities to enhance government response, with senior level representatives from both government and nongovernment organizations. Additionally, Lesperance participated in an invite-only meeting with FBI, DOS, CDC, DTRA, NIST, and NAS to discuss this topic.

National Labs Bringing a Peaceful Nuclear Future

Star Treaty

Last month, President Obama reiterated his call to action for the world to move away from nuclear weapons and strive toward a peaceful nuclear future. In response, Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz toured the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna, an organization responsible for monitoring international underground testing of nuclear explosions.

PNNL is one of 16 CTBTO radionuclide labs and certifies the makeup of materials detected by CTBTO sensors. Dr. Moniz stated "This [CTBTO] state-of-the-art facility represents the global cooperation necessary to succeed at this important mission, and the Department of Energy plays an integral role in [Obama's goal] through our National Laboratories."

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Supporting the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

PNNL's Ian Cameron, Lance Lidey, and Tim Stewart, all NSD, were the first to make trace measurements of radioactivity in the tiny country of Burkina Faso in western Africa. As part of a program to measure trace airborne radioactivity for the Nuclear Explosion Monitoring and Policy program (NEMP), PNNL staff worked to make trace background measurements needed for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and also train local scientists and engineers on how to make these specialized measurements.

Gretchen Hund

Research Underscores Industry Nonproliferation Role

Led by Gretchen Hund, PNNL researchers are catalyzing discussions in government and the private sector about industry's role in nonproliferation. The goal: to influence approaches and policies that will discourage and reveal would-be proliferators. The May/June 2013 issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an article by Gretchen and Andrew Kurzrok on integrating nonproliferation into corporate sustainability. In June, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a webcast where the two scientists discussed their research on private sector outreach for nonproliferation. Gretchen, Andrew, and others are now convening discussions to help dual-use industries consider self-regulation approaches. The National Nuclear Security Administration sponsors this work.

Professor R. Rajaraman (left) with PNNL's Kevin Whattam, NNSA Sector

India nuclear expert shares insights

PNNL's National Nuclear Security Administration Sector hosted Professor R. Rajaraman, an expert in nuclear disarmament and civilian nuclear energy technology, the week of June 17. Prof. Rajaraman co-chairs the International Panel on Fissile Materials and is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. At PNNL's Seattle and Richland offices, he spoke on the status of India's civilian nuclear power program and the U.S./India nuclear cooperation agreement. In separate discussions, Prof. Rajaraman met with PNNL staff on fissile material production in South Asia and ways to further engage with India to advance nonproliferation goals.


Securing Chernobyl

On Friday, June 14th, the second lifting stage of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure was completed at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant site. PNNL's Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) Project Manager, Joel Hoyt, provided a series of images which show where the NSC stood at the start of the jacking, and where it currently stands at 85 meters. After completion, the NSC will be 109 meters tall, 150 meters wide, have an arch span of 257 meters and will weigh 29,000 tons. The NSC will then be slid from its current location to over the damaged nuclear reactor.

PNNL has been instrumental in contributing to safety and sustainability at Chernobyl. The Lab was involved with the development of the SIP and additionally participated in the conceptual design of the NSC structure. For more information on the NSC, watch this video overview.

Chris Aardahl and Kevin Whattam

Newest Fellows Prepare for Seminar XXI

Chris Aardahl and Kevin Whattam (NSD) were selected as two of 88 Fellows participating in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2013-2014 Seminar XXI Program: Foreign Politics, International Relations and the National Interest.

Seminar XXI is an educational program for senior military officers, civilian government officials and staff members of nongovernment organizations in the national security and international economic policy communities. The nine-month program explores key policy issues involving countries and problems critical to the United States interests.

Social Media Data Mine

Accessing the Social Media Data Mine

PNNL's Court Corley, Chase Dowling and Stuart Rose's paper "SociAL Sensor Analytics: Measuring Phenomenology at Scale," received the overall best paper award at the IEEE Intelligence and Security Informatics (ISI) conference, from a pool of 100 long and short papers. Intern Taylor McKenzie also contributed.

The paper highlights Corley's social media analysis tool, "SALSA" (SociAL Sensor Analytics), which allows Corley to examine trends in social media among billions of Tweets and other social media. The benefit being this tool can analyze data previous inaccessible data due to the volume of social media information being created. For more information, check out the PNNL News Center.

Dark Matter

Searching for Dark Matter

Jeter Hall was quoted in a New Scientist article in reference to his work with the CDMS detector, an experiment seeking to sense weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which is the favored form of dark matter. "It can keep you up at night that the thing you're searching for might not be there at all," says Hall. "But it's compelling enough for me to vote with my feet and work on it anyway."

The CDMS detector consists of eight layers of shielding, surrounding the array of supercooled silicon and Germanium crystals. This detector caught a hint of a WIMP in 2011, but the signal was inconclusive.

MRDIS Team Photo

Scanning Ship Cargo

Two of the world's most strategically important shipping ports now are better equipped to counter illicit nuclear smuggling activities. PNNL staff were instrumental in deploying the first radiation-detection systems for scanning transshipped cargo in Balboa, Panama and Salalah, Oman.

The Mobile Radiation Detection and Identification System (MRDIS) scans containerized cargo being transferred from one ship to another, or transshipped. MRDIS integrates radiation detection and identification capabilities onto a mobile platform that can be strategically positioned near container offloading operations without adversely affecting the flow of commerce through the port.

"PNNL's role was to bring these technologies from concept to implementation, through integration of commercial equipment," said PNNL project manager Mario Pereira. "We also trained in-country operators, maintenance, and information technology staff to sustain this capability over the long term." The team devised an innovative method to minimize the bandwidth needed to collect data from the systems, using the ports' wireless infrastructures.

The work was funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration. PNNL will deploy a similar cargo screening system in the Brussels, Belgium airport this summer.

Atkinson Photo

Revolutionizing Explosive Sensing Technology

David Atkinson and Robert Ewing are featured twice this month on for their work in Trace Explosive Detection. Atkinson and Ewing proved for the first time last fall that a machine could perform direct vapor detection on common explosives, such as RDX and PETN. The machine "sniffs" the air and is able to identify explosive molecules – a long-sought "canine-like" detection ability. Now, the machine is able to detect C-4 and Semtex as well. Atkinson says "It could change the way we do screening for explosive threats." Read more online or pick up the June issue of Popular Science on newsstands now.

VirginiaTech Photo

Virginia Tech Research Center

PNNL celebrated the formal opening of a new cyber lab at the Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington in Ballston, VA during a ceremony on March 18. The lab, built on the success of the "CASCADE" project, provides NIU with state of the art student and faculty research capabilities, as well as experiential courses in advanced analytics and cyber engagement. It will also serve as a venue for PNNL, NIU, VT, and others to conduct collaborative research and development, and demonstrate PNNL's advanced analytical capabilities in the National Capitol area.

DTRA Photo

Reducing biological threats abroad

A team of Laboratory staff were lauded recently for their best-in-class biological threat reduction work in post-Soviet Georgia funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for the U.S. Department of Defense. Roger Anderson, Laura Denlinger, and Mary Lancaster, Jamie Lovaglio, James Morris, Charles Timchalk, and Dick Weller have been engaging with Georgian stakeholders in a Biological Threat Reduction Integration Contract for Georgia in DTRA's Cooperative Biological Engagement Program. Dick Weller coordinates PNNL's efforts with the consortium that includes Battelle Columbus and CH2M HILL.


Energy reliability for the U.S. military

The SPIDERS Microgrid Project, a Joint Command Technology Development project between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security, was featured recently on The project aims to secure energy installations on military bases. PNNL is participating as an independent testing agency, advisor for concepts of operation, and in aiding the transition into commercialization. Read more at

globe photo

Economic analysis and U.S. policy

Tom Wood and Chris Toomey, both NSD, conducted an economic analysis on export control that was instrumental to a change in U.S. export control policy. The PNNL researchers showed that a proposed change in country categorization would have an overall positive economic impact for U.S. industry. The policy change is slated to become law this year.

airplane photo

Arms-Control Monitoring

Ted Bowyer, with colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and Harvard University authored "Beyond Arms-Control Monitoring", published in the February issue of AAAS Science Journal. The article articulated the various issues with arms-control treaty monitoring and suggested two different opportunities towards advancing arms-control monitoring: CTBT IMS technology and the Open Skies Treaty


Professional Engineering Certifications

Jonathan Barr, Nick Lombardo, and Cody Hostick, were recently named Certified Systems Engineering Professionals by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). INCOSE is a "not-for-profit membership organization founded to develop and disseminate the interdisciplinary principles that enable the realization of successful systems." The certification process involved demonstration of systems engineering experience and applied systems engineering knowledge.

Sam Savani

American Nuclear Society

Sam Savani, NSD, has been appointed Chair of the American Nuclear Society's (ANS) Professional Development Coordination Committee (PDCC). The PDCC is responsible for coordinating professional development activities of the ANS, including the development and delivery of workshops, special seminars and sessions at ANS meetings. The one-year term begins June 20, 2013.

Client Kudo

Congratulations to Mark Dillner and Patricia Godoy-Kain, PNNL Sustainability Managers for the Second Line of Defense Program. They received special recognition from DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration for exemplary work in Bulgaria and Argentina. Mark oversaw computer hardware upgrades in seven port and border crossing locations in Bulgaria. At the same time, he coordinated the acceptance test campaign of a new radiation detection system at the Sofia airport. Patricia coordinated and briefed a 10-member Congressional delegation that toured the nuclear detection installation in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

PNNL economic analysis supports U.S. policy change

A PNNL economic analysis on export control was instrumental to a change in U.S. policy that is slated to become law this year. Tom Wood and Chris Toomey analyzed the economic impact of a proposed policy change related to nuclear technology exports. Their customer: DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for reviewing U.S. nuclear technology exports for potential proliferation concerns. Export trade for these kinds of items represents from $2 to $3 billion annually for U.S. industry. Using several nuclear industry forecasts as benchmarks, Tom and Chris showed that a proposed change in country categorization would have an overall positive economic impact for U.S. industry. Economists at the Department of Commerce and the National Security Council agreed with the PNNL analysis and approved the policy change for adoption. In follow-on research, PNNL has begun exploring ways to streamline the NNSA export control review process.

PNNL signs contract for MOX fuel tests

PNNL and Global Nuclear Fuels – America, a subsidiary of General Electric, signed a contract in January 2013 to develop and qualify mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for licensing. Planned MOX fuel tests will generate operating data that Global Nuclear Fuels – America needs to license the MOX fuel design with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for use in boiling water reactors. Obtaining test results on MOX fuel performance is an important step in building a commercial market for MOX fuel in the United States. PNNL manages this work for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

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