World Report: The Events of 2003


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More than experts from countries are in attendance. March 12, Secretary Abraham and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantsev sign agreements that will facilitate the shutdown of three Russian nuclear reactors. The reactors, which are the last three in Russia that produce plutonium for military purposes, also provide necessary heat and electricity to the "closed cities" of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk in Siberia.

Under the agreement, the U. March 19, The Senate votes to remove language in a budget resolution calling for oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. March 19, The U. The Department suspends transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in response to terrorism concerns. The Department allows only those trucks en route to the New Mexico repository to continue.

March 20, Secretary Abraham issues a statement declaring that "world energy supplies are more than adequate to compensate for any disruption" caused by the hostilities in Iraq. March 21, The Department releases oil production figures from the Energy Information Administration that, Secretary Abraham notes in a statement, "confirm that world oil production is consistent and steady. The facility, a joint effort of ORNL, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the 3M Company, will test a conductor that may lead to more efficient and reliable transmission of electricity and enable researchers to address the problem of power outages caused by sagging lines that result from the heat of high current loads.

March 31, The Department's Energy Information Administration reports that storage levels of natural gas are at record lows. Given the "narrow margin of surplus capacity," any sudden demand increase or drop in production could result in significant short-term price increases. April 8, At a meeting of the U.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the EWG in their May meeting as a means to strengthen the overall relationship between the two countries, and enhance global energy security, international strategic stability, and regional cooperation. The projected price is 17 cents per gallon above 's summer average, but close to average summer prices in and In doing so, the Department moves to protect its cleanup interests as governed by the Tri-Party Agreement and counters a lawsuit filed at the end of February challenging certain DOE shipments of material to Hanford that are likewise important to DOE's accelerated cleanup plans.

April 11, Department officials, back from a trip to Alaska's North Slope, announce the forerunner of a new type of onshore drilling platform termed the "Arctic Platform" that dramatically reduces impact on fragile ecosystems. The Arctic Platform is a lightweight, byfoot aluminum drilling platform elevated a dozen feet above the frozen tundra on specially designed steel legs. Its compact and modular design allows it to be safely transported by air or with ultra-low-impact vehicles called rolligons.

April 11, The House passes a comprehensive energy bill by a vote. The vote is a "terrific victory," notes Secretary Abraham, which "gives momentum to the goal we have of enacting an energy bill. The international effort to sequence the 3 billion DNA letters in the human genome, note project officials, "is considered by many to be one of the most ambitious scientific undertakings of all time, even compared to splitting the atom or going to the moon. The plutonium pit, called Qual-1 because it was built with and fully met qualified processes, is for the W88 warhead, which is carried on the Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile, a cornerstone of the U.

A pit is the fissile core of a nuclear weapon's physics package. April 24, The Department's National Nuclear Security Administration announces plans to move forward with the fabrication of approximately 6. The Decision is part of the Bush Administration's restructuring of the U. April 26, Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow and Acting National Nuclear Security Administrator Linton Brooks deliver to Secretary Abraham a report on the future relationship between Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California recommending that the university continue to manage the laboratory through the end of the current contract in September but that DOE announce its intent to compete the contract when it expires.

April 28, In remarks at the International Energy Agency Ministerial meeting, Secretary Abraham calls for the development of international collaboration in advanced research and development that will support the deployment of hydrogen energy technologies. The Secretary's proposed International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy would establish cooperative and collaborative efforts in hydrogen production, storage, transport, and end-use technologies; common codes and standards for hydrogen fuel utilization; and the sharing of information necessary to develop hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

The vision of the partnership, the Secretary notes, "is that a participating country's consumers will have the practical option of purchasing a competitively priced hydrogen power vehicle, and be able to refuel it near their homes and places of work, by April 30, Secretary Abraham travels to Doha, Qatar, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss international energy issues and promote international energy dialogue. While in Qatar, the Secretary tours the U.

April 30, Secretary Abraham announces that DOE intends to compete the management and operations contract for its Los Alamos National Laboratory, currently held by the University of California, when the current contract expires in Although the university has taken "vigorous action" to correct the problems uncovered at the laboratory, the Secretary notes, "the university bears responsibility for the systemic management failures that came to light in April 30, Secretary Abraham announces that DOE will compete and award separate contracts to implement its plan to revitalize the nuclear energy mission at its Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory complex and to accelerate the environmental cleanup of the site.

The laboratory, which will be renamed the Idaho National Laboratory, will specialize in developing advanced nuclear energy technologies. DOE's goal for Idaho, the Secretary says, is "to have this lab emerge as one of the premier applied research and nuclear engineering institutions in the world, without losing focus on the cleanup work that needs to be completed. May 1, In a report on the international energy outlook, DOE's Energy Information Administration EIA projects that worldwide consumption of commercial energy will grow by 58 percent over the next two and one-half decades.

The EIA expects much of the growth to occur in the developing world, with China, India, and South Korea leading the way, as their consumption increasingly resembles that of the industrialized world.

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May 7, At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Garman states that the biggest technical challenge for President Bush's initiative to speed the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles involves the storage of hydrogen on board vehicles. We're going to need a technology breakthrough. The Department is looking at chemical hydrides and carbon nanotubes for storing hydrogen without high pressure. Secretary Abraham calls declining gasoline prices a "positive sign" for the economy. May 12, The Department's Argonne National Laboratory hosts emergency management officials from Federal, state, and local agencies during the Top Officials 2 TopOff 2 nationwide exercise.

The Argonne site is used because of its security as a Federal facility and its distance from downtown Chicago, Illinois, which is part of the exercise. TopOff 2 begins in Washington State with a simulated "dirty bomb," which goes off just south of downtown Seattle. Next is a simulated biological attach on the Chicago area.

May 13, In remarks at a meeting of the National Coal Council, Secretary Abraham asserts that the Bush Administration's proposals to advance carbon sequestration, nuclear power and hydrogen research and development "will have a more profound effect on global climate and emission advancements than any other initiatives on the planet. May 13, A General Accounting Office report on DOE's efforts to recover and secure radioactive sources asserts that securing the sources is "not a priority" for the Department and "not even fully-funded. May 14, In response to the GAO report on radioactive sources, the Department states that it has already recovered and secured, working together with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission NRC , which licenses radioactive sources radioactive sources to date, including sources in fiscal year alone.

The program, the Department declares, "is fully funded to identify and recover all the sealed sources that the Department and the NRC have identified as priorities. May 16, Secretary Abraham, on the second anniversary of President Bush's unveiling of his National Energy Policy, issues a statement highlighting the progress made in achieving the goals of the plan. Brooks has held both positions in an acting capacity since July Shutting down the three reactors, two located at Seversk and one at Zheleznogorsk, the Department says, will end the production of enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce approximately one nuclear weapon every day and a half.

May 30, In response to a new report about lower-level management's failure to report a potential security incident at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Nuclear Security Administrator Linton Brooks announces the dispatch of a team of senior managers to assess the management of security operations at the nuclear weapons laboratory.

The team is to follow up on recent reports about security concerns at Livermore, make recommendations about necessary changes in operations, and assess whether NNSA should assume direct management of security at the laboratory. May 30, The Justice Department joins a lawsuit brought by an environmental group against Lockheed Martin Energy Systems that alleges, in part, the company submitted false claims for millions of dollars in government funds while operating DOE's Paducah, Kentucky , gaseous diffusion plant from to June 2, The Department announces that a modified jet engine has been used to successfully fight a West Virginia mine fire that had been burning for nearly two months and was the cause of employees being temporarily laid off when mine operations were idled.

Positioned at the mouth of the one of the mineshafts, the jet engine was used to blow water vapor and inert gases into the mine to smother the fire by creating an inert environment underground. The Department and the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health provided a portion of the costs to test the innovative fire suppression system.

June 3, The Department announces the opening of a new Lexington, Kentucky, office established to implement environmental cleanup activities for the Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky, gaseous diffusion sites. When completed in , NIF will consist of laser beams delivering ultraviolet laser light equivalent to 1. NIF will provide 50 times more energy than any other laser system and will be a cornerstone of NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program without underground nuclear testing. June 10, The Department's Fernald Closure Project in Ohio hosts its final public tour of the Fernald site before it reaches safe closure in The former Feed Materials Production Center was the first link in a chain of government facilities that manufactured the atomic bomb, producing high-purity uranium for the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

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The site's mission shifted from uranium production to environmental restoration in the late 's. June 24, A General Accounting Office report, released at a hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, documents shortcomings in the National Nuclear Security Administration's management of its safeguards and post-September 11 security program. NNSA, the GAO states, cannot be assured that its contractors are working to maximum advantage to protect critical facilities and materials from adversaries seeking to inflict damage.

Paul Robinson announces management changes prompted by the findings of an independent investigation looking into allegations that some internal security investigations were impeded or the investigators were retaliated against. The charter sets the framework for international cooperation in research and development for the separation, capture, transportation and storage of carbon as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

June 26, Secretary Abraham, in remarks opening the National Petroleum Council's Natural Gas Summit, notes that demand for natural gas has increased over the last decade to levels that are difficult to sustain under current supply and production constraints. It's about senior citizens, living on fixed incomes, being forced to choose between skyrocketing heating bills or some other of life's necessities. June 27, In a letter to all members of Congress following the Natural Gas Summit, Secretary Abraham calls for increased energy conservation to avert problems with gas supplies and prices later this year and through next winter.

July 1, Touring DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, Secretary Abraham encourages Americans to use energy efficient technologies and practices in their homes and businesses in the wake of rising natural gas prices this year. Demand for natural gas is expected to rise by as much as 50 percent over the next 25 years.


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The Summit will explore global natural gas resources, proposed LNG supply projects, and export and import terminal facilities, among other topics of relevance to the global LNG industry. July 8, National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks announces an initiative to reinforce current safeguards and security oversight and strengthen long-term security operations in the nuclear weapons complex.

LLNL scientists use the foot, two-stage gas gun to fire a projectile at more than five kilometers per second at a plutonium target. The impact produces a high-pressure shock wave that passes through the plutonium in a fraction of a microsecond while diagnostic equipment measures the properties of the shocked plutonium. Shock physics experiments complement the ongoing subcritical experiment program at NTS as part of the National Nuclear Security Administration's stockpile stewardship program to maintain the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of underground testing.

July 9, Secretary Abraham launches the Smart Energy Campaign to educate businesses, homeowners, and consumers on ways they can cut energy bills and curb their energy consumption to help the U. In a letter to all fifty state governors, Secretary Abraham recommends actions the states can take to improve the natural gas situation, and he encourages the governors to join the Smart Energy Campaign. The Secretary also writes to state public utility commissioners offering suggested areas for state action to help ease the effects of a tightening natural gas market.

These included programs to encourage consumer energy efficiency and demand, information and education campaigns on electric and gas conservation opportunities, more efficient power sources, infrastructure expansion, and public utility commission actions. July 15, Secretary Abraham announces that drilling has begun on a 10,foot well to evaluate underground rock layers in New Haven, West Virginia, as part of a DOE carbon sequestration research project underway at the American Electric Power Mountaineer plant.

The goal of the project, funded primarily by DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, is to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions believed to contribute to global climate change. July 15, In his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan states that high energy prices put economic growth at risk. Also worrisome is the rise in natural gas prices. Natural gas accounts for a substantial portion of total unit energy costs of production among nonfinancial, non-energy-producing firms.

The forum brings together representatives from consumer groups, industry and government for an open discussion on short-term solutions to the natural gas problem. The HEU Blend Down Program takes HEU, a weapons-usable form of uranium, and blends it with natural uranium to make low enriched uranium, which cannot be used in weapons.

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Not only that, but we've turned it into a material that has an important peacetime use, producing electricity. Cove Point will become the nation's fourth and largest LNG terminal when it becomes operational later this year. Teller's daughter Wendy accepts on her father's behalf.

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Teller, the President says, "helped to shape the course of human history," and played a "pivotal role in ending the Cold War. Teller is a remarkable person," notes Secretary Abraham. But I also believe that Edward Teller should be regarded as one of the most important figures of the 21st century. His unwavering support for scientific education has inspired countless men and women to pursue lives in science. The strategic plan for the CCSP, a joint program that brings together the resources and expertise of thirteen federal agencies, describes a plan for developing knowledge of variability and change in climate and related environmental and human systems, and for encouraging the application of this knowledge.

By focusing in these specific areas we can focus on moving in new scientific directions, employing new research activities, filling critical data gaps through observations, developing operational tools for decision-makers and managers and communicating results across communities and across borders. July 24, The Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory releases new color maps of the planet Mars, drawn from data collected by Los Alamos equipment aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which revealed the hydrogen content of the planet's surface.

Described as "breathtaking," the color maps show the likely sites of water on Mars and showcase their association with geologic features like the Vallis Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system.


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  4. DOE's Office of Science administers both programs. July 31, Secretary Abraham announces the release of two solicitations for research and development in hydrogen production, delivery and storage technologies.

    World Report: The Events of 2003
    World Report: The Events of 2003
    World Report: The Events of 2003
    World Report: The Events of 2003
    World Report: The Events of 2003

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