Defense

Energy Dept. Seeks $8.3 Billion for 2015 Nuclear-Arsenal Work

National Nuclear Security Administration

The Energy Department is seeking $8.3 billion in fiscal 2015 funds for nuclear-arsenal activities -- a proposed $534 million increase over current fiscal-year levels.

The department's total budget proposal for the semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration is $11.7 billion, which includes $1.4 billion for naval atomic propulsion systems, according to a Tuesday agency press release. The next fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

"The [fiscal 2015] request provides the resources we need to modernize and maintain an aging nuclear weapons stockpile and supporting infrastructure," Acting NNSA Administrator Bruce Held said in provided comments.

Some $2.7 billion of this year's budget request would go toward refurbishing aging U.S. warheads, including the B-61 gravity bomb. An additional $1.7 billion would be allocated to the "science, technology and engineering base" conducting warhead life-extension research activities, according to the release.

About $2.4 billion would be dedicated to modernizing the National Nuclear Security Administration's "nuclear security capabilities," including further design work for the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 complex in Tennessee.

The requested $335 million for the uranium-enrichment facility would be an increase over enacted fiscal 2014 levels, which at different times have been said to be $309 million or $326 million, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

At the same time, the Energy Department is mothballing an uncompleted South Carolina mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility, which was intended to turn excess plutonium into nuclear-reactor material.

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