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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Former lab worker sentenced

     A former Los Alamos National Laboratory contractor has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for conspiring with her physicist husband to sell nuclear secrets.
    The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the sentencing of 71-year-old Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, who pleaded guilty to charges accusing the couple of plotting to communicate classified nuclear weapons data to an undercover agent who they thought was a Venezuelan government official.
    Her husband, 79-year-old Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, has also pleaded guilty in the case and is in federal custody pending his sentencing. He was a scientist at the lab from 1979 to 1988. She did technical writing and editing from 1981 to 2010. Prosecutors say both held security clearances that allowed them access to certain classified information and restricted data.
    Her husband, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina who is also a former LANL employee, also entered a guilty plea in June 2013, and is in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing.

  • DOE IG questions possible biosafety labs at LANL

    The National Nuclear Security Administration is considering spending $9.5 million expansion to its facilities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory so it could conduct biological research .
    Such facilities operate at different biosafety (BSL) levels. For example, BSL-1 is for low-risk agents, BSL-2 is for medium-risk agents and BSL-3 is for those agents that cause serious and potentially lethal infections.
    LANL is considering opening a facility with two BSL-3 labs.
    A recent Department of Energy Inspector General report, however, raised several questions.
    “Specifically, NNSA identified the development of a BSL-3 facility at LANL as its preferred alternative for meeting biosafety laboratory needs even though it had not fully considered the need for and cost effectiveness of additional capacity,” the report said.
    “ Nor, had it developed a sound basis for measuring the utilization of existing facilities— a critical factor in determining the need for additional capacity.

  • TA-21 towers come tumbling down

    The Department of Energy’s Environmental Projects Office took down the water tower at the west end of Technical Area 21 (TA-21) Monday beginning at about noon. The tower to the east came down today.
    The Lakeworth Group LLC of Los Alamos perform the demolition. Lakeworth was designated through the U.S. Small Business Administration as an 8(a) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business. The contract was valued at $482,467.
    Demolition of the towers, one of them 66 years old and the other 38 years old, was one of several projects to remove remaining structures at TA-21.
    “By bringing down these towers, we are making a noticeable difference in the skyline at TA-21,” said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for Environmental Programs at the Los Alamos Field Office. “This is another positive step toward eventual transfer of this property to Los Alamos County.”
    Technical Area 21 was one of the early sites of the Manhattan Project and Cold War-era work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). It was the location of the world’s first plutonium processing facility and where groundbreaking tritium research took place.
    Lakeworth spent last week preparing the site for the dismantlement and toppling of the water towers.

  • LANL Foundation a beneficiary of an annuity

    Donald Rose, a retired longtime scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory named the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation and two other nonprofits as beneficiaries of a $700,800 annuity.
    Rose died in April at the age of 91. He came to LANL in 1956, joined the Weapons Subsystem Group (WX-5) in 1982 and was named Assistant to the Deputy Associate Director for Defense Construction Programs in 1984. He retired in 1990, returning as an associate and later guest scientist at LANL until 2000.
    His obituary said, “Don will always be remembered for his warmth, his smile and childlike curiosity of science, nature and people. He shaped many lives.”
    Susan Herrera, Chief Executive Officer of the LANL Foundation, said he will “continue to shape lives through his unrestricted gift, which the Foundation will use to support education in Northern New Mexico.
    “Mr. Rose’s generous gift shows how easy it is for people to make sure their good work lives on after them. The LANL Foundation welcomes simple bequests in a will, annuity, life insurance policy or charitable remainder trusts,” Herrera said. “People like this insure that we can continue to invest in education and human potential in perpetuity.”

  • The Two Towers

    According to the Los Alamos Field Office, these water towers located at TA-21 off of DP Road will be coming down Monday. More details will be released later this week.

  • Sampling concludes at Fenton Hill

    Supporting future land use for the U.S. Forest Service, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Corrective Actions Program (CAP) completed sampling soil at Fenton Hill in the Jemez Mountains this month.
    Fenton Hill, known to the laboratory as TA-57, is located on Forest Service property.
    DOE historically used the site between 1974 and 1992 for geothermal experiments in an attempt to generate energy using steam produced from pumping water into hot rocks deep in the ground.
    Most of the 10 areas of concern on the site were previously addressed. The EM-supported initiative under CAP involves investigating the two remaining areas of concern — a former liquid waste drum pad and a former sanitary waste leach field.
    The 2005 Compliance Order on Consent requires investigation of the site so in addition to releasing the property the accelerated investigation is another step toward the laboratory completing two more sites on property no longer used by DOE.

    LANL addresses explosive contamination in surface, groundwater

  • Taking pictures with protons

    A new facility for using protons to take microscopic images has been commissioned at the ring accelerator of the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH (Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt, Germany.
    The proton microscope was developed by an international collaboration consisting of Los Alamos National Laboratory, GSI, the Technical University Darmstadt, and the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Russia.
    Protons, like neutrons, are the building blocks of atomic nuclei. Similar to x-rays, they can be used to radiograph objects, generating images of them. Protons are able to penetrate hot dense matter that can’t be examined with light or x-rays. This technology, also known as “proton radiography,” was originally invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1990s, but has been adopted around the world. In the future, the technique will be used at an accelerator currently under construction in Darmstadt called the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) and at the proposed Matter and Radiation In Extremes (MaRIE) facility at Los Alamos.

  • LANL scientist wins ACS award

    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Jaqueline L. Kiplinger has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry, sponsored by the F. Albert Cotton Endowment Fund.
    “To be nominated and selected for the Cotton Award by my American Chemical Society colleagues is such an extraordinary honor,” Kiplinger said “I have found so much joy in actinide chemistry research, both in advancing fundamental knowledge for the nation, and in training future generations of scientists.”
    The award recognizes outstanding synthetic accomplishment in the field of inorganic chemistry. A formal announcement of the names of the 2015 ACS National Award Recipients is in the Aug. 11 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. The American Chemical Society will present her with the award at the Society’s 249th ACS National Meeting in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.
    Kiplinger was honored for her work in establishing synthetic routes to novel uranium and thorium compounds that have opened new frontiers in understanding the nature of bonding and reactivity in actinides.

  • Moniz vows to get WIPP working

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is vowing to get southeastern New Mexico’s troubled nuclear waste dump back in operation as soon as possible after a mysterious radiation leak that has indefinitely shuttered the nation’s only permanent repository for waste from decades of nuclear bomb building.
    During a town hall meeting packed with state and community officials, and many supporters of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, Moniz said, “If you stick with us, were sticking with you.”
    About a dozen community leaders and residents were at the Carlsbad airport to welcome Moniz and show their continued support for the plant, which employs about 650 people.
    At least one speaker, however, said the leak showed the 15-year-old, multi-billion dollar project has failed and should be abandoned. Others complained about a lack of information and the slow pace of identifying the cause of the leak.
    Officials have yet to pinpoint what caused a barrel of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to breach in one of the plant’s half-mile-deep rooms Feb. 14, contaminating 22 above-ground workers with low levels of radiation. One theory has focused on a chemical reaction in highly acidic waste that was packed with organic cat litter to absorb moisture.

  • LANL probes mysteries of uranium dioxide’s thermal conductivity

    Nearly 20 percent of the electricity in the United States is generated by nuclear energy from uranium dioxide fuel, but mysteries still surround exactly how the material controls the electrical production: poor thermal conductivity can limit the conversion rate of heat produced by fission, however we don’t know the physics underlying this behavior or, as it turns out, some of the properties to which it gives rise.
    “A deeper understanding of the physics that governs the performance of important engineering materials, such as uranium dioxide, should lead to improvements in efficiency and safety,” said David Andersson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist on the project, “which are ultimate goals of the Department of Energy’s program to develop advanced predictive computer models of nuclear reactor performance.”
    New research at Los Alamos is showing that the thermal conductivity of cubic uranium dioxide is strongly affected by interactions between phonons carrying heat and magnetic spins. “This leads to unexpected behavior of the thermal conductivity: For example, in single crystals the measured thermal conductivity is different along the side or edge of the cubic unit cell than along the diagonal, even at and above room temperature,” said Andersson.