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Explosion at test firing site causes $1 million in damages

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The accident was provisionally categorized as a safety event with a Category 2 significance

By Roger Snodgrass

An unusually loud noise after an explosive experiment at a firing site at Los Alamos National Laboratory at about 3:10 p.m. on Dec. 16 alerted researchers to a possible safety problem.

According to an occurrence report obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, the researchers involved in a large-bore powder gunshot waited about 20 minutes before they left a neighboring bunker and went out to see what happened.

They discovered “that two doors had been blown off the facility and concrete shielding blocks on the west and east side of the building were separated from the wall,” according to the report. No personal injuries were reported from the accident.

Pieces of the gun that had been tested were found on the asphalt outside the building.

The accident was later provisionally categorized as a safety event with a Category 2 significance. Under the DOE emergency management system, category 2 denotes an event with a “moderate impact” on the facility.


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