Crews respond to CMR building

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

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.

According to lab spokesman Kevin Roark, emergency crews responded at 3:20 p.m. to an incident in which an employee carrying a ladder hit a pipe inside the building. The pipe burst and water poured out.

“We checked for radioactivity and we checked all the people. The water was non-detect for radiation or hazardous material,” Roark said.

Roark said it was either just water or sanitary waste.”

Roark said that lab personnel always proceed as if it was a worst-case scenario.

“Our people are extremely well trained and they follow certain processes,” Roark said. “And they followed those procedures perfectly.”

Roark said an all-clear was in effect by the early evening.

According to the lab website, the CMR facility totals 550,000 square feet, including an administrative wing, an office wing, six laboratory wings, and one area that includes hot cells that provide heavy shielding and remote-handling capabilities for work on highly radioactive materials. Three laboratory wings are in various stages of shutdown.

The website says the CMR boasts a full capability for analytical chemistry and metallurgical studies on small samples of nuclear materials in support of national security programs, including support of plutonium pit manufacturing and surveillance programs. Analyses performed at the CMR on plutonium samples are critical to the national security goal of assuring that plutonium specifications are met for pit production and testing.

The CMR houses key capabilities for analytical chemistry, uranium processing, destructive and non-destructive analysis of nuclear materials, and actinide research, processing, and metallography. These capabilities support a number of national security programs, such as non-proliferation and nuclear safeguards, counter-proliferation, stockpile surveillance, nuclear materials technologies, and technology development for waste treatment and minimization.