News

Chinese nuclear security center opens with help from Sandia

By Heather Clark

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Labs helps support physical protection system to train future nuclear security experts

DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon, Sandia President and Labs Director Jill Hruby, and other experts and international guests joined leaders of China on March 18 to commission the Chinese Center of Excellence (COE) for nuclear security.

The center will provide training for security personnel in China’s expanding nuclear power sector.

“I am honored to represent Sandia at this auspicious occasion,” Jill said. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with colleagues at the Center of Excellence to promote nuclear security best practices in China and across the region.”

WITH?DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz looking on, Vice Premier Ma Kai of the People’s Republic of China greets Jill Hruby at a ceremony to commission the Chinese Center of Excellence for nuclear security.

WITH DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz looking on, Vice Premier Ma Kai of the People’s Republic of China greets Jill Hruby at a ceremony to commission the Chinese Center of Excellence for nuclear security.

DOE/NNSA and the China Atomic Energy Authority agreed to establish the center in a memorandum of understanding signed in 2010. Led by DOE/NNSA, Sandia along with Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest national laboratories and DOD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency contributed equipment and expertise crucial to the design and development of the center.

The Labs team, in an effort led by International Nuclear Security Engineering Org. 6835, consulted with the Chinese State Nuclear Security Technology Center (SNSTC) on the design, operation, and testing of a physical protection system at a mock material processing nuclear facility at the COE for the proper handling and storage of special nuclear material.

'In our national interest'

Sandia also will support the future success of the center through the design of nuclear security curriculum to train China’s security professionals how to protect nuclear facilities and materials. The work is part of Sandia’s global security work to enhance security through partnerships that build a capacity worldwide to prevent the misuse of nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological materials.

“It’s in our national interest that everybody’s nuclear materials are secure,” says civil engineer Nick Winowich (6835). “We want to share our expertise in securing nuclear facilities and materials.”

Sandia’s leadership in physical security grew out of decades of work securing high-consequence facilities against theft and sabotage. Used across the DOE enterprise and by other US and international agencies, performance-based design specifically defines a facility’s characteristics, vulnerabilities, and all the potential security risks, including an adversary’s capabilities. Its central concept ensures that the time intruders need to steal materials or sabotage a facility exceeds the time responders need to stop them in a fully integrated system. Armed with that analysis, the Labs designs physical protection systems that are customized to meet a specific facility’s needs.

According to Sandia employees, the Labs and its counterparts at the China SNSTC developed a cooperative working relationship that will continue to support nuclear security and nonproliferation in the region long after the opening of the center.