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Los Alamos National Laboratory isn’t taking any chances about safety problems related to old munitions that might be lying around or recently exposed in the area.
Last November two old mortar shells were found by a hiker near the boundary of TA-33 and TA-70 in Ancho Canyon, south of White Rock.
The discovery was reported to the Los Police Department at the time and a hazardous devices team was called out for tests.
As it turned out, no high explosives were involved, but it was a reminder that people are still coming across old ordnance related to the laboratory.
The lab is letting people know that “Danger” signs have recently been posted at trailheads to remind hikers of the potential for finding old unexploded ordnance in the area.
The signs include photographs of the various types of ordnance that might be encountered.
Trail users on LANL land between State Road 4 and the Rio Grande are reminded to use caution, be aware of natural hazards and the potential for finding unexploded ordnance.
For your own safety and the safety of others, immediately leave the area if you encounter any unexploded ordnance or other suspicious devices and contact the laboratory or the Los Alamos Police Department.
When the old mortar shell was found, Roark cautioned that it was difficult even for a trained eye to tell if the old shells were alive or inert.
“It’s become pretty rare to find anything even semi-intact,” Roark said. “But obviously it happens and people should use extreme caution.”