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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Nuclear arms talk scheduled for Wednesday

    A talk on “A Long-Term View of Nuclear Arms Control” will be given by Stephen M. Younger, a leading weapons-complex manager, author, and former LANL Associate Director for Nuclear Weapons, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at an open meeting of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security.
    The public is invited to attend Younger’s talk which will be in the Lounge at the Education Building of the United Church, 2525 Canyon Road in Los Alamos.
    Every president since Truman has proposed the elimination of nuclear weapons. Significant reductions in the nuclear stockpile have occurred since the end of the Cold War, but there are still thousands of weapons in the United States, Russia, and other countries. More troubling, the threat of proliferation continues to cloud the future.
    What role do nuclear weapons play in the 21st century? How many do we need, if any? What are the prospects for future arms control treaties and what are the challenges associated with their verification? How does proliferation complicate future reductions, or make them more compelling? These and other topics will be examined in a broad discussion of the challenges and opportunities associated with future arms control. 

  • Coss' LANL resolution gets mixed reaction

    Last week, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, in his role as chairman of the Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory Communities, presented a draft City of Santa Fe resolution at their monthly meeting calling for LANL’s consideration of other alternatives to their proposed Technical Area 54, Area G remedial action plan, as submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).

    The LANL plan leaves nuclear waste buried in pits and trenches at the laboratory’s (TA)-54, Area G.

    “Full cleanup of Area G would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our precious groundwater and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of high paying jobs for 20 years or more,” Coss said.

    Coss’ draft resolution has created a fair amount of reaction.

    A statement from the lab said “under the Consent Order, the final remedy at Area G will be decided by the state of New Mexico after receiving input from the public. As that process continues, our sampling and monitoring to date — the results of which are all public — have shown that the buried material is safe where it is, now and for the foreseeable future.

  • NNSA helps out Vietnam

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) last week conducted an International Consequence Management (I-CM) training course in Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of Vietnam’s preparation for building a nuclear power plant. In addition, NNSA is assisting Vietnam to set up an emergency operations center and graphic information system to assist with sharing information during an emergency.
    The course, hosted by the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS), had 15 participants representing VARANS, and other organizations who have responsibility for response to a nuclear/radiological incident/accident under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
    “The training is part of the many positive steps Vietnam and VARANS are taking in establishing a nuclear and radiological emergency management system prior to building a nuclear power plant,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “I am pleased that NNSA is able to continue our partnership with Vietnam in helping to improve its emergency management structure.”

  • Comments sought on draft assessment plan

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council recently announced the release of the Draft LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan, the beginning of a 30-day public comment period, and the date and location of a public meeting regarding the LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment.

    The LANL Trustee Council is composed of representatives of the State of New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Pueblo of Jemez, the Pueblo de San Ildefonso, Santa Clara Pueblo, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

    A Natural Resource Damage Assessment evaluates the impacts of releases of hazardous substances on natural resources and the services provided by those resources.

    Unlike the ongoing environmental remediation process, which focuses on removal of contaminants that pose a threat to human health and the environment, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process focuses on the restoration of resources and their services to the condition they would have been in absent the release of the contaminants.

    A major goal of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment is to compensate the public “for injury to, or loss of, natural resources” and the services provided by those resources.

  • LANL celebrates 50-year anniversary of launch

    Fifty years ago last month, Los Alamos National Laboratory sensor technology lifted off into space to help verify that world Superpowers were abiding by the newly signed Limited Test Ban Treaty — a pledge by the United States, the former Soviet Union and the United Kingdom to refrain from testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater or in space.

    “For the past 70 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory has serviced the country and provided technical solutions to the some of biggest national security challenges facing the nation,” said Principal Associate Director for Global Security Terry Wallace. “On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, an event that changed the world. Space became a national-security concern; Los Alamos played the key role in providing a space platform to monitor nuclear weapons testing and treaties, and 50 years later the lab still has this role.

  • Sigma Labs inks second contract with LANL

    Sigma Labs, Inc. announced that it received from Los Alamos National Laboratory a second contract to provide Sigma Labs’ advanced manufacturing technology and continuing support efforts in nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and disposition for the Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System (ARIES).
    The ARIES program is the only one in the nation that disassembles and destroys surplus plutonium pits. The pits are transformed into plutonium oxide powder suitable for being made into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. The ARIES Program is based on an agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation to eliminate 34 metric tons of weapons grade materials and turn them into nuclear fuel thereby reducing the threat of global weapons proliferation.
    Sigma Labs expects this contract with Los Alamos National Laboratory to generate up to $178,800 in revenues.
    Mark Cola, president and chief executive officer of Sigma Labs, said,
    “This latest contract is one in a series of awards that validates our expertise and our ability to deliver solid technical results to the most demanding applications in the world, namely U.S. National Security and reducing the threat of weapons proliferation.”

  • TRU-Waste shipments resume

    According to a statement from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, all environmental subcontracting companies have been recalled and shipments of TRU waste started again as of Oct. 21.

    Operations were suspended for processing and shipping transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad Oct. 6 because of the threat of a government shutdown.

    The lab said at the time four shipments already loaded would be completed. Nuclear material was secured and facilities were put into a “safe standby” condition.

    The laboratory directed approximately 200 subcontractors on the TRU project to stand down and report back to their companies. These are mostly EnergySolutions subcontractors. Certain other environmental monitoring operations, including those supporting the Santa Fe water utility and chromium pump test, continued.

    On Oct. 21, the TRU shipping campaign restarted and the subcontractors were recalled after Congress reached an agreement to end the shutdown and increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

  • 2014 LANL giving campaign kicks off

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory kicked off its 2014 employee giving campaign with a car show Wednesday near TA-3.

  • New HIV vaccine design shows promise

    The considerable diversity of HIV worldwide represents a critical challenge for designing an effective HIV vaccine.

    Now, it appears that a vaccine optimized for immunologic coverage of global HIV diversity, called a mosaic vaccine and designed by Bette Korber and her team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, may confer protection from infection.

    “This is the first time the mosaic antigen inserts were used in a challenge study. In a challenge study, vaccine-elicited protection from infection is tested, versus testing a vaccine for its ability to stimulate good immune responses,” Korber said.

    These vaccines are specifically designed to present the most common forms of parts of the virus that can be recognized by the immune system. This new insight regarding a mosaic vaccine’s ability to protect from infection is the result of work by a scientific team led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and including Los Alamos researchers. The study, which was conducted in monkeys, is newly published in the journal Cell.

  • New HIV vaccine design shows promise

    The considerable diversity of HIV worldwide represents a critical challenge for designing an effective HIV vaccine.
    Now, it appears that a vaccine optimized for immunologic coverage of global HIV diversity, called a mosaic vaccine and designed by Bette Korber and her team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, may confer protection from infection.
    “This is the first time the mosaic antigen inserts were used in a challenge study. In a challenge study, vaccine-elicited protection from infection is tested, versus testing a vaccine for its ability to stimulate good immune responses,” Korber said.
    These vaccines are specifically designed to present the most common forms of parts of the virus that can be recognized by the immune system. This new insight regarding a mosaic vaccine’s ability to protect from infection is the result of work by a scientific team led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and including Los Alamos researchers. The study, which was conducted in monkeys, is newly published in the journal Cell.