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Laboratory fights against open burning ban

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Two weeks of permit hearings on tap

By Roger Snodgrass

When Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazardous Waste permit comes up for a public hearing, starting April 5, one issue certain to be contested has to do with the laboratory’s ability to conduct non-nuclear explosions.

The laboratory has appealed the New Mexico Environment Department’s decision to remove open burning from the renewal permit, which lab officials believe will impact a number of current non-nuclear explosive capabilities, including defensive training for roadside bomb units.

In an interview Thursday from the airport in Omaha Neb., William S. Rees, Jr., the head of the laboratory’s global security directorate said there are many aspects of the laboratory’s mission that are not about nuclear weapons.

“The global security program is what I’m in charge of,” he said. “It’s just vital that we can continue to do some of that work.”

Rees cited examples of the laboratory’s open burning program that he said have had major benefits to the country and to large numbers of individuals.

One was the response to the foiled attempt by a terrorist to use liquid bombs to blow up British and American passenger jets and resulted in a brief, but onerous, total embargo on carrying liquids aboard airliners.


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