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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • NNSA pursues PF-4 scrutiny

    The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the National Nuclear Security Administration have been going back and forth regarding the seismic integrity of LANL’s Plutonium Facility.

    In a letter to DNFSB Chairman Peter Winokur from NNSA's top security official, DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, he tells Winokur the NNSA and LANL have been working methodically to evaluate PF-4 to understand how the facility would perform if subjected to an earthquake.,

    “This effort has already resulted in several structural improvements to assure the safe operations of PF-4. As part of a deliberative process outlined in national consensus codes and standards, NNSA and LANL have progressed from relatively simple calculations and modeling approaches to more sophisticated methods (referred to as static nonlinear pushover analysis), to provide additional detail and confidence that we have identified all the facility structural elements that require upgrading.

    "The initial results of the nonlinear pushover analysis are complete and have undergone an independent peer review. The final report thoroughly/documenting the methodology and the results will be issued as soon as the peer review comments are addressed,” Poneman wrote.

  • Southwestern U.S. trees face rising drought stress, mortality

    Combine the tree ring growth record with historic information, climate records and computer model projections of future climate trends, and it paints a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States.
    That’s the word from a team of scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arizona and several other partner organizations.
    Described in a paper published in Nature Climage Change. “Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality,” the team concluded that in the warmer and drier Southwest of the near future, widespread tree mortality will cause forest and species distributions to change substantially.
    The researchers aligned about 13,000 tree core samples with known temperature and moisture data, further blending in known historic events such as documented mega droughts that drove the ancient pueblo indians out of longtime settlements such as Mesa Verde, Colo.

  • Atomic bomb trigger man dies at 96

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Robert F. Christy, a former California Institute of Technology professor who helped design the trigger mechanism for the atomic bombs used in World War II, died Wednesday. He was 96.

    Christy died of natural causes at his home in Pasadena, surrounded by his family, according to Caltech spokeswoman Deborah Williams-Hedges.

    Christy was one of the early recruits to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos Laboratory, a U.S. government research project to develop atomic weapons during the war. He was hand-picked to join by his University of California, Berkeley, professor J. Robert Oppenheimer, with whom Christy studied quantum mechanics.

  • LANL Foundation to host conference

    A team called the “rock stars” of education will present at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation’s 15th Annual Conference on Education from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 11-12 at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Conference Center.
    Dr. Harry K. Wong and Dr. Rosemary Wong, authors of the best-selling book, “The First Days of School,” will present the keynote session on “Effective Teaching.” Dr. Jeff Goldstein, director of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and a popular Huffington Post tweeter, will be the afternoon speaker.
    Harry Wong has been called “Mr. Practicality” for his common sense, research-based, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for student success. He is credited with renewing entire schools and rescuing frustrated teachers. 
    The speakers will address two audiences. Oct. 11 is open to public school teachers in Northern New Mexico. Oct.12 is a special presentation to schools participating in LANL Foundation’s Inquiry Science Education Consortium (ISEC): Dulce, Española, Mesa Vista, Peñasco, Pojoaque, Santa Fe and Springer.
    Registration, including, breakfast, lunch and conference materials, is $70 per person for non-ISEC educators and is available at lanlfoundation.org.

  • LANL tops shipping record in first year

    In the first year of an effort to accelerate shipments of transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), Los Alamos National Laboratory topped its own record with 59 more shipments than planned and it also became one of the largest shippers of this type of nuclear waste in the country.

    “Our goal this fiscal year was to send 184 shipments to WIPP,” said Lee Bishop, TRU waste manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Site Office, “and we finished the fiscal year in September with 230 shipments, surpassing Los Alamos’ all-time record by nearly 60 shipments.”
    Los Alamos’ previous record was 171 shipments, set last year.

    In an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy, Los Alamos has committed to removing 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste stored above ground by June 30, 2014.

    The laboratory removed 916 cubic meters of waste from its stored inventory this year, more than its goal of 800 cubic meters. It plans to more than double that effort during fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, with a goal of shipping 1,800 cubic meters by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013. The final 1,106 cubic meters will be shipped by June 30, 2014.

  • LANL tops records in first year of accelerated shipping

    In the first year of an effort to accelerate shipments of transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), Los Alamos National Laboratory topped its own record with 59 more shipments than planned, and it also became one of the largest shippers of this type of nuclear waste in the country.

    “Our goal this fiscal year was to send 184 shipments to WIPP,” said Lee Bishop, TRU waste manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Site Office, “and we finished the fiscal year in September with 230 shipments, surpassing Los Alamos’ all-time record by nearly 60 shipments.”

    Los Alamos’ previous record was 171 shipments, set last year.

    In an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy, Los Alamos has committed to removing 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste stored above ground by June 30, 2014.

    The Laboratory removed 916 cubic meters of waste from its stored inventory this year, more than its goal of 800 cubic meters. It plans to more than double that effort during fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, with a goal of shipping 1,800 cubic meters by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2013. The final 1,106 cubic meters will be shipped by June 30, 2014.

  • DOE awards Regional Coalition $100K

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office has awarded the State of New Mexico funding for the

    Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities to help address environmental and other related issues at LANL that affect the Regional Coalition’s members.

    Under the $100,000 grant funding, one of the key roles of the Regional Coalition will be to understand and help address the various issues regarding the cleanup and longterm management of LANL, and to provide a forum to foster discussions among DOE, the regulatory agencies, and site contractors. The Regional Coalition will work to educate and perform public outreach to DOE, Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) and the State on LANL environmental issues.

    “We are very pleased that local elected leaders can work with DOE to help promote clean up at Los Alamos as well as realize the job creation opportunities for our constituencies related to this environmental effort,” said Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, chair of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

  • NMCF to relinquish database activities

    After eight years of providing public education and outreach related to environmental monitoring information from the Los Alamos National Laboratory site, New Mexico Community Foundation) has been asked by the Department of Energy to relinquish its responsibility as outreach coordinator and database manager of the Intellus NM Project.

    DOE notified NMCF on Sept. 18 that, due to financial constraints and uncertainties in DOE Environmental Management’s budget, NMCF would no longer be funded to provide training, education and outreach to the public on behalf of Intellus NM.

    Additionally, LANL and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) are currently negotiating the closure of the 2007 Settlement Agreement and Stipulated Final Order, also known as the Chromium Settlement, which required LANL to turn their environmental data over to an independent manager. The closure of this agreement allows LANL to manage their data without oversight or involvement from a third-party. 

  • LANL publishes 2011 Environmental Report

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory has published its 2011 Environmental Report. The massive 406-page volume contains information on virtually every aspect of the lab's impact on the Northern New Mexico environment.

    Chapters cover areas such as compliance, radiological and non-radiological dose assessments, air sampling, groundwater monitoring, foodstuffs and biota monitoring, and environmental restoration.

    The full report can be viewed by clicking here.

  • Funds may come back to lab

    Some details were uncovered in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s reprogramming request after $120 million was returned to Washington from the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.

    According to the Nuclear Weapons and Material Monitor, the NNSA said that approximately $20-$25 million would be spent on start-up activities at the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building, while $20-$30 million would go to purchase additional analytical chemistry equipment for RLUOB. The request was made Sept. 13.

    The trade publication went on to report that another $20-$25 million would go toward relocating analytical chemistry sample management/preparatory capabilities from the existing CMR facility to the lab’s Plutonium Facility (PF-4), and $20-$30 million would be needed to relocate material characterization equipment from CMR to PF-4. In addition, NNSA said it would need $15-$25 million to build a tunnel between PF-4 and the RLUOB.