U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) Aug. 22-23.
Perry serves as the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy. He leads an agency tasked with maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation, overseeing the United States’ energy supply, carrying out the environmental cleanup from the Cold War nuclear mission, and managing the 17 National Laboratories, which Perry likens to “incredible jewels.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 22, Perry toured the Site itself, speaking with employees and visiting locations of high importance to the NNSS’ national security mission. Highlights of his tour included the U1a Complex, an underground laboratory used for subcritical experiments, and the Site’s most secure facility, the Device Assembly Facility (DAF), which supports subcritical experiments, special nuclear material staging and emergency response training.
Perry was particularly impressed with the NNSS’ work with NASA and Los Alamos National Laboratory on the Kilopower experiments, or KRUSTy (Kilopower Reactor Using Stirling Technology).
On Thursday, Aug. 23, he joined employees from throughout the Nevada Enterprise for an all-hands meeting at the NNSS’ North Las Vegas Facility and, in the case of remote locations, via video teleconference.
Perry began his talk with a little background on himself and how his career led to his position as U.S. Secretary of Energy, which he described as the “coolest” job he’s ever had.
“What the Department of Energy is involved with changes the world,” he said.
He went on to talk about his tour of the Site and the work he observed.
“I’m not sure anyone has a more diverse portfolio,” Perry said. And later, “It’s not lost on me that you all wear a lot of different hats.”
He specifically took time to address the NNSS’ role in the country’s national security mission – “being a consistency in a world that’s inconsistent.”
Keeping America safe is “the highest calling of what we do,” he said.
Perry also made special note of the efforts of the many employees involved in fighting the NNSS’ recent Area 19 wildfire, which burned just over 2,200 acres in a remote, mountainous section of the Site.
He closed his all-hands by taking questions and thanking everyone for their work. Afterward, he took the time to speak with and shake the hand of every employee who waited.
Perry completed his visit to the NNSS with a tour of RSL-Nellis, the NNSS’ West Coast Remote Sensing Lab, which has served for more than 50 years as a valuable national asset for nuclear emergency response and remote sensing capabilities.