LLNL scientist and engineers train to be CTBTO inspectors

A scientist and two engineers from the Livermore, California-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently trained as on-site surrogate inspectors for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization's Preparatory Committee, the laboratory announced on Thursday.

Sean Ford, a geophysicist with seismology training, along with Don Felske and Walter Dekin, weapons lab researchers with nuclear explosive test experience, were selected as three of five of the U.S. surrogate inspectors for the international program in 2010. When all required member countries sign the CTBT, the surrogates will become active, on-site inspectors for the program.

Training is a shared responsibility in the program as participants instruct the others in their field of expertise.

"One of the benefits of the training is that we work with and learn from world class scientists," Ford said. "I have had the privilege of working with top seismologists in the field."

The surrogate inspectors train in the five principal inspection methods, including seismic monitoring, radionuclide detection, geophysics, continuation phase techniques and visual observations.

Between May 27 and June 7, Ford, Felske and Dekin trained during Build-Up Exercise III near Veszprem, Hungary, to prepare for the CTBTO On-Site Inspection Division's Integrated Field Exercise in Jordan between November 2014 and December 2014.

"The purpose was the practical application of select on-site inspection techniques in an intensive series of field missions conducted over 12 days," Felske said. "It was a grueling 12-hour-a-day schedule in all weather conditions, but always interesting work. The group was spirited and highly motivated. We really enjoyed the international interactions."

The U.S. is one of eight countries that must ratify the treaty for it to go into effect. Ratification in the U.S. requires the advice and consent to ratification of the CTBT by the U.S. Senate.