For most Pahrump residents, the most they know about National Security Technologies LLC is the dirt parking lot full of cars on Highway 160 just north of the Pahrump Town Office and Home Depot used by workers taking the bus to the Nevada National Security Site.
National Security Technologies LLC Director of Defense Experimentation and Stockpile Stewardship Raffi Pappazian said his company, the largest employer in Nye County, has 2,600 people working at seven facilities nationwide, including 1,150 people at the NNSS, 880 people in North Las Vegas and 220 people at the Remote Sensing Laboratory at Nellis Air Force Base.
The company operated with a 2013 budget of $506 million, the great majority of the $584 million annual budget for the NNSS federal programs. Out of the NSTec program funds, $224 million, or 44 percent, goes to nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, defense nuclear non-proliferation another $74 million or 15 percent and nuclear counter terrorism incident response $43 million, or 8 percent.
“Stewardship certainly drives the largest program element at the site as far as investment. It is the landlord of the Nevada Nuclear Security Site and as such it has lots of mortgages it takes care of,” Pappazian said. That includes managing everything from roads to commodes.
“We are the largest tech company in the State of Nevada and we are also one of the largest employers of scientists and engineers. We support approximately 3,300 jobs, about $360 million in staff salaries with benefits,” Pappazian said.
Out of $600 million in annual funding funneled into the NNSS, $140 million is spent on materials and another $100 million is given to local entities, he said, like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Desert Research Institute, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, which has a sheriff’s substation at the NNSS.
Then there are the charities. Pappazian said NSTec contributes $355,000 annually to the United Way, about $1.2 million to UNLV and about $500,000 in scholarships to high schools. NSTec provides $100,000 annually to the Science Bowl competition, $100,000 to the American Red Cross, provided $400,000 for the first Robotic Las Vegas Regional and $200,000 in grants to local teachers for science, technology, engineering and math programs. At Christmas time they collected about 300 bicycles for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.
Pappazian said grants are awarded to schools and the university because the company is aware many scientists are aging and a trained workforce will be needed to replace them. They prefer to train and hire locals, who will end up staying in the community.
“We work with the university extensively. I actually have a staff member there that has a center, which is growing individuals that I’m interested in and hopefully, there’s no given, but hopefully they’ll see the light and join the science community,” Pappazian said.
He said 150,000 first responders have received training at the NNSS. They include paramedics, policemen and firemen.
“If ever there is a dirty bomb, and we know there is going to be a dirty bomb one day, how is that first responder going to react?” Pappazian asked. The first responders also train for hazardous chemical spills, like chlorine.
The treaty verification program center was developed about four years ago, Pappazian said. It tries to verify whether countries are cheating on their nuclear treaties using seismic coupling and other data. The program also includes fighting improvised explosive devices (IED).
Environmental restoration at the NNSS and the Tonopah Test Range are about two-thirds complete, Pappazian said. It includes demolishing and cleaning up facilities like the RMAD explosive demolition facility and the Pluto facility. NSTec works on groundwater investigation, geologic interpretations and, “We plugged up 822 boreholes since 2000 and these were geological bores that we sunk at the site. The project was completed in September 2012,” Pappazian said.
Unmanned aerial systems or drones, are part of the future plan. The NNSS will also seek to expand training to counter chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. He said NSTec is now working with laboratories and defense programs to bring an enhanced capability to radiography, which he predicted would bring in significant jobs to the state in mining and construction as well as high-tech jobs in imaging and radiography.