Y-12’s Surveillance and Quality Evaluation Program assesses the integrity and life expectancy of the stockpile through surveillance and evaluation of weapon components and assemblies. Random samples from the stockpile are removed yearly and returned to Y-12 for precise forensics to evaluate life expectancies. Data from surveillance is used to determine weapon systems that might be candidates for a Life Extension Program.
Nondestructive techniques are highly desired to enhance the evaluations. In 2012, Y-12 deployed Nondestructive Laser Gas Sampling as a nondestructive process for assessing nuclear weapon components. The NDLGS system is capable of assessing the internal gas constituents of hazardous components in a nondestructive manner. The technology is anticipated to save several million dollars per year by reaccepting weapon components into the stockpile in a nondestructive manner and avoiding the cost of new manufacture. In addition, the process greatly improves safety and minimizes workers’ exposure to hazardous material.