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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • WIPP materials remain safe

    CARLSBAD (AP) — Crews declared a blaze at an underground nuclear repository in southeastern New Mexico snuffed out and determined that there was minimal damage after a truck hauling salt caught fire and prompted an evacuation.
    Two mine rescue teams went into the earth at the Carlsbad-area Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where the federal government seals away its low-grade nuclear waste, including plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools. The teams determined the fire was no longer burning and reported the air was clear and safe to breathe, a news release and Susan Scott, a spokeswoman who answered an emergency line, said late Wednesday.
    All employees were evacuated from the underground site after the fire broke out about 11 a.m. Wednesday, and none of the radioactive waste was affected, plant officials said.
    Six people were treated for smoke inhalation and released a short while later.
    Early Thursday, officials said the situation was stable and firefighting foam was applied to prevent embers from reigniting.
    Emergency response efforts wrapped up but an investigation is underway in an effort to get the plant safely back online, a statement said.
    A phone call to the plant early Thursday morning went unanswered.
    No information was released on what caused the blaze or when the site would reopen.

  • LANS awards Venture Fund grants

    A total of six Northern New Mexico Native American-owned and operated businesses received a total of $60,000 in grants through a new Native American Venture Acceleration Fund created by Los Alamos National Security and the Regional Development Corporation.
    The grants are designed to help the recipients create jobs, increase their revenue base and help diversify the area economy.
    Funding comes from LANS, which manages Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Native American Venture Acceleration Fund is managed by the Regional Development Corporation.
    “The positive responses and active engagement in the Native American Venture Acceleration Fund are encouraging,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of the lab’s Community Programs Office. “These entrepreneurs and their companies are vital to the Northern New Mexico economy.”
    Among those receiving grants are the following companies:

    • NDN Energy of Jemez Pueblo, to provide lower cost energy to gaming tribes in deregulated states, development of website and print collateral and to develop an advertising plan.

    • Three Eagles Development Corporation of Picuris Pueblo, to provide packaging and barcoding for expansion of a new natural charcoal product.

  • Report: Possible conflict not disclosed in contract award

    The Department of Energy Inspector General is investigating an allegation from the Los Alamos Field Office concerning a possible conflict of interest in a consultant agreement awarded to an individual who was the spouse of a senior manager at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    According to documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, in a memorandum to the acting manager of the Los Alamos Field Office from Sandra D. Bruce, the assistant Inspector General for Inspections, it was alleged that neither the consultant nor the senior manager disclosed their spousal relationship to LANL.
    The document went onto to say that it was further alleged that work was performed before the consultant agreement was signed and also that hours were charged by the consultant for work that was not performed.
    The inspection, meanwhile, substantiated all aspects of the allegation.
    “We found that LANL inappropriately awarded a sole source consultant agreement to an individual who was the spouse of a senior LANL manager.”
    The inspection also said, “we also discovered that the consultant did not disclose his spousal relationship with the senior LANL manager at the time of the award.”

  • Pantex HPFL work done under budget

    Work on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s High Pressure Fire Loop (HPFL) project at its Pantex Plant, located near Amarillo, Texas, was completed in December 2013 on schedule and more than $5 million under budget.
    The HPFL is designed to enhance the reliability of safety-class fire suppression systems to ensure that the Pantex Plant will be able to meet mission assignments in critical production areas.
    According to a press release issued by the NNSA, this project reduces the risk of unplanned facility system outages, reduces system maintenance requirements and represents NNSA’s broader efforts to improve project management.
    “The successful completion of the High Pressure Fire Loop saved taxpayers millions of dollars while ensuring that critical NNSA mission work can be completed safely and on time,” said Bob Raines, NNSA’s associate administrator for acquisition and project management. “We have worked hard to get better at project management, and as our nuclear security enterprise ages and we continue to undertake similar projects, our work at Pantex should serve as an example moving forward. The dedication and teamwork demonstrated by B&W Pantex and the Federal project team were instrumental in the successful completion of the project.”

  • IG targets security project

    Last week, the Department of Energy Inspector General released a special report regarding the NNSA’s management of the $245 million Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project Phase II at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The project has struggled with cost tracking, estimates, and construction defects.
    In a statement, lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said, “We’ve acknowledged that there were deficiencies and we’re committed to correcting them, not only in the specific ways mentioned in the Inspector General’s report but in a broader sense on project management lab-wide. In fiscal year 2013, we achieved official project completion (CD-4) on five projects, each on or ahead of schedule and under the agreed costs. That’s what the government expects and that is our goal on each project.”
    On Nov. 15, LANL project managers declared construction completion on the NMSSUP system surrounding its primary plutonium facility, and the first portion of the system’s Entry Control Facility is now in use.
    The upgrade is now in the activation and testing phase and security officers are receiving training on the new equipment and software while activation and testing, continued during the holiday break.

  • Herrera elected chair

    Susan Herrera, CEO of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, has been elected chair of the Board of the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers.
    The association serves foundations and private philanthropists throughout New Mexico. It hosted a conference “Finding Common Ground: Joining Together to Improve New Mexico” late last year at Tamaya Resort for grantmakers and nonprofits. The conference was partially funded by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
    Other officers are Dolores Roybal, executive director of Con Alma Health Care Foundation; immediate past board chair; Adam Rubel, steering committee member of the Kindle Project, vice-chair; Laurie Betlach, program director of the Lannan Foundation, secretary; and Bob Mang treasurer of Jessica’s Love Foundation, treasurer.
    The association plans to hire a new executive director by March.
     

  • Employee at LANL honored

    Gabriel Montaño of LANL’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies was named president-elect of of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
    His term as president is for four years: the first year as president-elect, two years as president and the fourth year as past president.
    Montaño joined the laboratory in 2002 as a postdoc in the Biosciences Division. He became a fulltime staff member in 2005 in the Laboratory’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. Montaño has a bachelor’s degree in biology from New Mexico State (1997) and a doctorate in molecular cell biology from Arizona State (2002). 

  • Talking North Korea, Iran

    Former LANL director Siegfried Hecker presented a lecture at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Friday night. The subject: How the political situation Iran and North Korea has changed within a year, and the reasons behind it. Be sure to pick up Tuesday’s Los Alamos Monitor to get the full story.

  • Hecker to speak on N. Korea, Iran

    Former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker will present a public lecture on “Iran and North Korea what a difference a year makes” at 7 p.m. Friday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1967 18th Street in Los Alamos.
    In a release, Hecker, who now works at Stanford, said, “one year ago, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad was still threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the map while Iran’s nuclear program was progressing steadily.
    “Now, recently elected President Hassan Rohani and his foreign minister Javad Zarif are pursuing a nuclear deal and rapprochment with the West. In North Korea, the young, Swiss-educated Kim appeared to be willing to compromise with the West. But recently he carried out one of the most brutal leadership purges, including executing his uncle.
    “In the meantime, the North’s nuclear program is moving ahead on all fronts. I will provide a perspective on these two nuclear cases based on interactions with key officials from both countries.”
    Hawkins to speak
    at Bradbury

  • NNSA lists its highlights

    As 2014 begins, the National Nuclear Security Administration last week released a list of some of its most important accomplishments and improvements over the past year. NNSA reached significant milestones in the areas of nonproliferation and counterterrorism, made a host of significant achievements through its work with the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile, and saw improved operations throughout the complex.
    “In 2013, even with a challenging budget situation, NNSA’s successes ensured that the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and effective; saved taxpayers millions of dollars; and supported emergency preparedness and the next generation of nuclear security workers,” said NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held.
     “Our people, both our government employees and the employees in our government-owned labs and plants, have done great work executing our mission and improving the way we do business.”
    NNSA’s 2013 list highlights accomplishments in operations and at its sites, international partnerships to support nonproliferation and removals of dangerous materials, and emergency preparedness trainings and university programs.
    Improved Operations and Site Achievements: