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Thirteen employees exposed to radiation at WIPP

By Associated Press

 

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Thirteen workers at the nation's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico have tested positive for radiation exposure after a recent leak released toxic particles in and around the plant, officials announced.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Project declined to comment further on the preliminary test results announced Wednesday, saying they'll discuss the issue at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"It is important to note that these are initial sample results," the DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the plant operator, said in a joint statement. "These employees, both federal and contractor, will be asked to provide additional samples in order to fully determine the extent of any exposure."

All employees who were working at the southeastern New Mexico plant when the leak occurred late Feb. 14 were checked for contamination before being allowed to leave, the news release said. But biological samples were also taken to check for possible exposure from inhaling radioactive particles.

Elevated radiation levels have been detected in the air around the plant, but officials have said the readings are too low to constitute a public health threat.

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Wiens to discuss ChemCam

 Dr. Roger Wiens will discuss “Curiosity” rover on Mars and lasers in a talk Feb. 27 at Fuller Lodge, Pajarito Room. 

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 6:40 p.m.

The one-ton Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for the last 18 months, having already found evidence for an ancient freshwater lake in 90-mile-wide Gale crater. 

The rover holds 10 instruments including Los Alamos National Laboratory ChemCam laser instrument which vaporizes bits of rock up to 25 feet from the rover to determine their compositions. 


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Washington expert thinks outside the box

By The Staff

 

(First of a series)

Jonathan Medalia is a specialist in nuclear weapons policy for the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

It was Medalia’s job last week to address those in attendance at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington.

The topic?

Thinking Inside the Boxes:  Can Existing Buildings Meet Department of Defense’s Pit Needs?

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Nuke dump officials confirm leak of waste at WIPP

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials Thursday confirmed a leak of nuclear waste at a southeastern New Mexico repository, but it could be weeks before workers can safely access the underground dump to determine what happened.

The release of radiation from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant poses no public health threat, officials emphasized, but the state environment secretary said he was concerned with the lag in getting information about the incident.


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Crews monitor WIPP for radiation

By Associated Press

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy stressed Sunday that no surface contamination has been found after airborne radiation was detected underground at a southeastern New Mexico site where the government stores low-grade nuclear waste.

The department says that tests were taken at several sites around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after a monitor found radiation on underground levels late Friday night.

No workers were underground and no injuries or damages have been reported.

A news release Sunday reflected information provided Saturday and said the "DOE emphasizes there is no danger to human health or the environment."


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Lebak named new Los Alamos Field Office manager

 

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that Kim Davis Lebak will be the Los Alamos Field Office Manager effective January 2014. As Field Office Manager, Lebak will serve as the Secretary of Energy’s senior representative on site at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“With her strong leadership skills and wide experience at both headquarters and in the field, Kim is perfect as our Los Alamos Field Office Manager,” said Acting NNSA Administrator Bruce Held. “Secretary Moniz and I believe that Kim and Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan will make a great team in promoting mission excellence in science, security, nuclear safety and project management.”


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Fails to get another year added to contract

Lab scores 89 percent in NNSA performance evaluation

By The Staff

The Los Alamos National Laboratory received a final score of 89 percent on its annual performance evaluation from the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to documents released Friday.


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LANL> Video shows new MRI-X-ray technology at work

Scanning advance could enhance airport security

Los Alamos scientists have advanced a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology that may provide a breakthrough for screening liquids at airport security. They’ve added low-power X-ray data to the mix, and as a result have unlocked a new detection technology. Funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, the new system is named MagRay.

The goal is to quickly and accurately distinguish between liquids that visually appear identical. For example, what appears to be a bottle of white wine could potentially be nitromethane, a liquid that could be used to make an explosive. Both are clear liquids, One would be perfectly safe on a commercial aircraft, the other would be strictly prohibited. How to tell them apart quickly without error at an airport security area is the focus of Michelle Espy, Larry Schultz and their team.


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Advance in scanning bottles could bolster airport security

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Nov. 25, 2013—Los Alamos scientists have advanced a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology that may provide a breakthrough for screening liquids at airport security.  They’ve added low-power X-ray data to the mix, and as a result have unlocked a new detection technology.  Funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, the new system is named MagRay.


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Lag time raises questions

By John Severance

Present and former Los Alamos National Laboratory workers have received letters from the Department of Energy in the past two months alerting them to a cyber-incident at the end of July which resulted in the unauthorized disclosure of personal information on those employees.


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Nanoscale engineering boosts performance

Dramatic advances in the field of quantum dot light emitting diodes (QD-LEDs) could come from recent work by the Nanotechnology and Advanced Spectroscopy team at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Quantum dots are nano-sized semiconductor particles whose emission color can be tuned by simply changing their dimensions. They feature near-unity emission quantum yields and narrow emission bands, which result in excellent color purity. The new research aims to improve QD-LEDs by using a new generation of engineered quantum dots tailored specifically to have reduced wasteful charge-carrier interactions that compete with the production of light.

“QD-LEDs can potentially provide many advantages over standard lighting technologies, such as incandescent bulbs, especially in the areas of efficiency, operating lifetime and the color quality of the emitted light,” said Victor Klimov of Los Alamos.

Incandescent bulbs, known for converting only 10 percent of electrical energy into light and losing 90 percent of it to heat, are rapidly being replaced worldwide by less wasteful fluorescent light sources. However, the most efficient approach to lighting is direct conversion of electricity into light using electroluminescent devices such as LEDs.


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Police search for missing SOC weapon

By The Staff

The Los Alamos Police Department is currently searching for a missing handgun, which was apparently lost by SOC (Securing Our Country) personnel Nov. 1.

SOC is a private security firm assigned to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

According to police, the gun turned up missing earlier in the day Friday. At this point in the investigation, police are releasing few details, except that it was a handgun.

“The Los Alamos Police Department is investigating this incident and is working closely with LANL, DOE and SOC to locate and identify how this weapon became missing,” according to a statement released Monday.

Because the firearm could not be immediately accounted for, the Los Alamos Police Department was notified of a possible theft.

“Obviously, this situation is completely unacceptable,” said Michael Wismer, Physical Security Division Leader.
“We are fully cooperating with law enforcement to determine responsibility and recover the weapon, and we’re working closely with SOC, the guard force contractor, in its internal investigation and review of security procedures.”

All appropriate notifications to the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration were made.

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New HIV vaccine design shows promise

The considerable diversity of HIV worldwide represents a critical challenge for designing an effective HIV vaccine.


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LANL >Water in burst pipe turns out to be non-radioactive or hazardous

Crews respond to CMR building

By John Severance

The radio scanner was in full tilt Monday afternoon as the Los Alamos National Laboratory emergency management team responded to a call at the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building.


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LANL Budget > But not nearly all of them as ripples from the shutdown may have long-lasting consequences

Subcontractors return

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos National Laboratory subcontractors felt the most immediate impact of the government shutdown and may feel the effects of budget uncertainty for some time to come.


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