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Ancho Fire prompts 'significant' changes

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By Roger Snodgrass

ESPA'OLA – Analysis of a 17-acre fire near a weapons test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory has led to some changes to prevent recurrence.

“They are significant,” said Jay Dallman, who heads the division in charge of detonation testing at the laboratory. “We’ve learned from this issue that we had and we’re going to be making more changes.”

Among the changes, he said, was that future tests during “extreme” or “red flag” conditions must be specifically approved at a higher management level and the Los Alamos County Fire Department must be on site. Also, an engineering study will review the containment-confinement systems to develop additional suitability standards.

Dallman told a meeting of the Community Radiation Monitoring Group (CRMG) at Northern New Mexico College Wednesday that the experiment on June 11 involved the Large-Bore Power Gun Assembly, located in the south-central area of the laboratory, not far from White Rock.

The experiment failed because a fast-closing valve failed to shut properly. Hot gases unexpectedly sprayed from the test equipment and ignited some grasses several feet away outside the test shelter. Under windy conditions, the incipient wildfire quickly exceeded the fire-fighting capability of the test employees.


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