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Unusual dark space found by LANL, NASA



By looking at the dark spaces between visible galaxies and stars the NASA/JPL CIBER sounding rocket experiment has produced data that could redefine what constitutes a galaxy.

“What was very surprising is the brightness of many fluctuations that appear between stars and galaxies,” said Los Alamos scientist Joseph Smidt, part of the data analysis team that studied the data from CIBER. “These fluctuations are having us rethink what goes on between stars and galaxies. The data suggests that galaxies shed many more of their stars into the intervening space than was originally thought.”

Results from two of four CIBER flights, launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2010 and 2012, appear in today’s issue of the journal Science.

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DOE IG IDs 'major weaknesses' at LANL

By Associated Press


A report issued Wednesday by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy squarely places blame for the shutdown of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository on failures at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The inspector general's office identified several major weaknesses in the lab's procedures for packing contaminated gloves, tools and other radiological wastes that were destined for permanent storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.

Not all of the lab's procedures were properly vetted and some procedures didn't conform with environmental requirements, according to the findings.

The report reinforces the findings of internal reviews done by the lab and the Energy Department following a Feb. 14 release of radiation from a barrel of waste that came from Los Alamos. The release contaminated 22 workers and forced the indefinite closure of the nuclear waste repository.

"Our review identified several major deficiencies in LANL's procedures for the development and approval of waste packaging and remediation techniques that may have contributed to the radiological event," the inspector general said.

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DOE releases WIPP recovery plan


Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Recovery Plan, outlining the necessary steps to resume operations at the transuranic waste disposal site outside of Carlsbad, N.M. WIPP operations were suspended following an underground truck fire and a radiological release earlier this year.                                                         

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WIPP: Second drum didn't breach


 Recent news reports have incorrectly suggested that there is a second breached drum in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) underground facility. 

According to a WIPP press release, there is no evidence to suggest a release from a second drum. The site conducted initial surveys that showed no evidence of a radiological release from Panel 6, and we have seen no evidence since then that suggests anything different. 

“Worker safety is the Department’s highest priority and workers entering radiologically controlled areas of the WIPP underground facility are trained and equipped with state of the art protective equipment. Safety measures are being taken to protect all workers during every entry into the underground facility,” the press release stated.

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LANL achieves low radioactive emissions rate


Los Alamos National Laboratory achieved its lowest radioactive air emissions rate in 20 years in 2013, according to annual air quality results released recently.

According to a lab press release, each year, the laboratory measures air emissions through a comprehensive system of 40 air monitoring stations located at the laboratory and in neighboring communities that provide data about ambient air quality. The laboratory monitors 80 minor sources and 29 major sources at the laboratory, such as exhaust stacks from radiological and nuclear facilities.

In 2013, the Los Alamos offsite dose rate was 0.21 millirem, about 2 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act limit of 10 millirem. This 20-year low is attributed to focused, more efficient operations and the cleanup of legacy environmental sites.

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Local briefs 9-11-14


Drug takeback day slated for Sept. 27


The Los Alamos Police Department will facilitate its bi-annual DEA drug take back initiative in two locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27.

Site 1: Los Alamos Medical Center Parking Lot 3917 West Road, specifically the lot along Trinity Drive.

Site 2: White Rock Visitor Center Parking Lot, 115 State N.M. 4.

Collection sites are registered on the DEA’s website: deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

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Accepting all challenges

By Gina Velasquez


Challenges are a part of life. Some challenges are tougher than others, but it is up to the individual to overcome. 

Christa Brelsford, 29, knows what it is like to encounter obstacles and do whatever it takes to prevail. 

The Los Alamos resident will be competing in the International Federation of Sports Climbing competitions in Gijón, Spain. She left on Saturday for the week and a half long event. 

She will be a contender in the Women Lower Amputee Division in Paraclimbing.

The event is for disabled people who are rock climbers and want to continue to do so after injury.

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Antibacterial approach could resolve skin infections

 Like a protective tent over a colony of harmful bacteria, biofilms make the treatment of skin infections especially difficult. Microorganisms protected in a biofilm pose a significant health risk due to their antibiotic resistance and recalcitrance to treatment, and biofilm-protected bacteria account for some 80 percent of total bacterial infections in humans and are 50 to 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than simpler bacterial infections.

“In essence, we may have stumbled onto a magic bullet,” said David Fox, a Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher on the project. “Through a robust screening strategy, our research team has identified a unique class of materials, known as ionic liquids, which both neutralize biofilm-forming pathogens and deliver drugs through the skin,” he said.

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Former lab worker sentenced for Atomic Energy violations

 The Justice Department today announced that a former contract employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was sentenced this morning for conspiring to violate the Atomic Energy Act by communicating classified nuclear weapons data to a person believed to be a Venezuelan government official, and making false statements to the FBI.

Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 71, of Los Alamos, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson to a year and a day in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release based on a guilty plea entered in June 2013.  Her husband, Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 79, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina who is also a former LANL employee, also entered a guilty plea in June 2013, and is in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing.

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TA-21 water towers coming down today

The Department of Energy’s Environmental Projects Office will take down the water
tower at the west end of Technical Area 21 (TA-21) today beginning at about noon.
The tower to the east is scheduled to come down tomorrow.

The Lakeworth Group LLC of Los Alamos will perform the demolition. Lakeworth is
designated through the U.S. Small Business Administration as an 8(a) and
Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business. The contract is valued at

Demolition of the towers, one of them 66 years old and the other 38 years old, is
one of several projects to remove remaining structures at TA-21.

“By bringing down these towers, we are making a noticeable difference in the skyline
at TA-21,” said Pete Maggiore, Assistant Manager for Environmental Programs at the
Los Alamos Field Office. “This is another positive step toward eventual transfer of
this property to Los Alamos County.”

Technical Area 21 was one of the early sites of the Manhattan Project and Cold
War-era work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). It was the location of the
world’s first plutonium processing facility and where groundbreaking tritium
research took place.

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School Board looking for interim member to complete five-member quorum

LA Monitor Exclusive: Foster resigns from Los Alamos school board

By Tris DeRoma

Long time school board member David Foster recently announced his resignation from the Los Alamos School Board. According to School Board Secretary Matt Williams, the District 3 resident cited the selling of his house and moving out of the district as his reason.   He was elected to the school board in 2010.

Williams said that Foster’s energy and dedication to his position will be missed by the board.

los_alamos_sch_3_1_maps.pdf5.9 MB

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Protesters call for lab closing, abolition of nuclear weapons

By Tris DeRoma



This past Saturday, a small group of people quietly gathered at Ashley Pond, the site where the first nuclear weapon was built. They then proceeded to don sackcloths and spread ashes on the grass near the site to sit on.

Not too many people visited Ashley Pond noticed, though a few honked as they drove by on Trinity, and some hung within earshot of their group discussion, curious about who these people were, dressed in their sackcloths who were spreading ashes on the ground. 

“It’s the oldest form of protest known to man, and we have come here to day to pray for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the closing of this laboratory (Los Alamos National Laboratory),” said Father John Dear, Ambassador of Peace for Pax Christi USA, a Catholic group that strictly adheres to the philosophy of non-violence as they feel was practiced by Jesus Christ. 

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Energy secretary Moniz to visit N.M. next week

By Associated Press


ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s trip to New Mexico next week will include a visit to the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad.

Moniz will be in Santa Fe for a meeting Monday morning and then will travel to Carlsbad for a town hall focused on recovery efforts at the troubled Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Moniz will wrap up his trip Tuesday with a visit to the site, which will mark his first time there since a reaction sent radioactive particles into the air above the repository and contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation.

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LANL laser heading to Mars in 2020 mission

NASA announced today that laser technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been selected for its new Mars mission in 2020.

“We are extremely excited to be going to Mars again,” said Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist Roger Wiens, Principal Investigator of the newly selected SuperCam team and current principal investigator of the Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam Team. “More importantly for the mission, I know SuperCam is the very best remote sensor that NASA can have aboard.”

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Lab admits violating nuke waste permit


Monitor Staff, Wire Reports

Los Alamos National Laboratory says it made mistakes in packing waste that has been linked to a radiation leak at the government's underground nuclear waste dump, but it remains unclear if the violations or its use of organic cat litter to absorb moisture played a role in the accident.

In a letter released by state regulators Thursday, lab officials told the New Mexico Environment Department that their internal probe of the handling of the toxic waste from decades of nuclear bomb building has uncovered several violations of its Hazardous Waste Facility Permit. The lab says it failed to follow proper procedures in making the switch from inorganic to organic litter and in its lack of follow up on waste that tests showed to be highly acidic.

The shortcomings were described as "unacceptable" by Principal Associate Lab Director Terry Wallace, according to an internal memo.

Teams of scientists and engineers are still trying to determine exactly what caused a barrel from Los Alamos to burst, and whether the switch in cat litter helped fuel what is suspected to have been some kind of reaction in the highly acidic waste that also contained lead.

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