Part three of the UCS/FAS analysis of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program for fiscal year 2012, titled “Hydrodynamic Tests: Not to Scale,” sheds light on scaled experiments, which are a relatively unknown form of subcritical nuclear testing.
We find that “the push for scaled experiments is coming from NNSA officials, not the nuclear weapons laboratories. The labs have resisted because they are overburdened by the increasingly ambitious Life Extension Programs. NNSA officials claim that scaled experiments could yield ten times more data points and save money because one large scaled experiment could replace twenty of the smaller hydrodynamic experiments conducted today. Lab scientists maintain that scaled experiments would require major new equipment investments that are not currently planned.”
As you might recall, the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee recently addressed the issue of scaled experiments in its committee report. You can read my summary of its findings here.