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U.S. Energy Secretary Perry visits LANL

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U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Los Alamos National Laboratory's plutonium facility Wednesday, met with employees and toured the lab’s ordnance range.

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This was Perry’s first visit to the lab following his appointment as secretary of the U.S. Energy Department in March.

“How honored I am to get to be part of this team. Not just Los Alamos but the 16 other national labs. They truly are an amazing resource for this country,” Perry said during a press conference.

As for Los Alamos, Perry was very impressed.

“I would suggest that every country in the world would like to have one that’s like Los Alamos. We’re blessed to have them. I’m excited to continue to be a hopefully potent spokesperson for what they do and a defender for what they do,” Perry said.

Perry came to Los Alamos at the invitation of Lab Director Charlie McMillan to get to know the men and women who are behind helping to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile, LANL’s central mission.

“I know a great deal about these labs, their history and what have you, but coming out here, and interacting with the men and women is always very important,” he said. “..if you’re going to be a good manager you have to get to know the men and women you’re working with, being on site is important.

Perry spent two days before coming to Los Alamos touring the Idaho National Laboratory. Thursday he will be touring the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

The first site Perry visited since becoming Energy Secretary was Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Under the Obama administration, the site was defunded.

“Yucca Mountain is as safe as any place in the world as a waste disposal site,” Perry said, while also admitting that no nuclear waste facility is perfect. “I think the real message was sent by the administration. They put $120 million in the line item to get Yucca back up, and I don’t think that was lost by anyone.”

Perry also talked about making nuclear energy popular again.

“For thirty years, we failed to give the appropriate support to the nuclear energy industry, and we’ve lost a lot of technology,” Perry said. “We’ve lost a lot of substantial institutional knowledge by men and women who basically aged out of the workforce. Being a nuclear engineer wasn’t as cool as maybe it was in the 1970s. We want to make the young men and women who are the best and the brightest in math and the sciences to say ‘I want to go to Los Alamos and be a part of the next big thing, whether it’s supercomputing, whether it’s cybersecurity, whether it’s finding the next fuels that can continue to support our economy.”

For the full report, read Friday's Los Alamos Monitor.