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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Edwards receives award for security work

    Dena Edwards, a security professional in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Associate Directorate for Mission Assurance, Security and Emergency Response, was named Outstanding Contractor Security Professional of the Year by the Department of Energy.
    “Dena is a true professional who has made a visible and valuable positive difference in our laboratory and our community,” said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan.
    Edwards was selected for spearheading the lab’s Active Shooter and Work Place Violence Awareness Program. She provided training and exercise support to various organizations to ensure all employees know what they need to protect themselves and their co-workers.
    Her work was recognized throughout the DOE enterprise and she was a key subject matter expert, providing expertise to other DOE facilities to improve their workplace violence programs.
    Edwards is also the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Security Contractor Professional of the Year.
    This is the fifth year in a row and the sixth time in seven years that the laboratory has won the NNSA award.

  • LIGO observations confirm theory on heavy elements

    Astrophysicist Chris Fryer was enjoying an evening with friends on August 25 when he got the news of a gravitational-wave detection by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory.
    The event appeared to be a merger of two neutron stars — a specialty for the Los Alamos National Laboratory team of astrophysicists that Fryer leads. As the distant cosmic cataclysm unfolded, fresh observational data was pouring in from the observation — only the fifth published since the observatory began operating almost two years ago.
    “As soon as I heard the news, I knew that understanding all of the implications would require input from a broad, multi-disciplinary set of scientists,” said Fryer, who leads Los Alamos’ Center for Theoretical Astrophysics.
    Fryer’s colleagues, Ryan Wollaeger and Oleg Korobkin, outlined a series of radiation transport calculations and were given priority on Los Alamos’ supercomputers to run them. “Within a few hours, we were up and running.”
    They soon discovered the LIGO data showed more ejected mass from the merger than the simulations accounted for.

  • Lab awards 2017 Fellows Prizes

    Five Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have been awarded the laboratory’s prestigious Fellows Prize in the areas of science or engineering research and leadership.
    Among those awarded are Eric Flynn, Harshini Mukundan and Nikolai Sinitsyn were awarded the Fellows’ Prize for Outstanding Research, and Brian Albright and Tess Light were awarded the Fellows Prize for Outstanding Leadership.
    “These scientists demonstrate the breadth of scientific research and leadership supporting the Laboratory’s national security mission and benefiting society,” said Alan Bishop, principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering. “Their innovative scientific discoveries and leadership represent the highest level of excellence. I congratulate all of them on their achievements.”
    The Fellows Research Prize for science or engineering commends individuals for outstanding research performed at the Laboratory and published within the last 10 years and that has had a significant impact on its discipline or program. The Fellows Leadership Prize commends individuals for outstanding scientific and engineering leadership at the laboratory and recognizes the value of such leadership that stimulates the interest of talented young staff members in the development of new technology.

  • LANL is waiting to hear about help for Puerto Rico

    The Department of Energy has not yet responded to New Mexico’s congressional delegation’s letter not to forget the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s expertise in helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria and Irma.
    A DOE spokesperson, speaking on background, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already directed the DOE and the Army Corps of Engineers to supply the Caribbean island with the manpower and technology it needs to stabilize and restore the island’s power grid.
    “USACE continues to work hard and do everything possible to support FEMA, the government of Puerto Rico and the people of the island,” a statement in a DOE factsheet said.
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the DOE are currently working with Puerto Rico Power Authority and the Puerto Rican government to immediately restore power to the remote Caribbean island.
    The spokesman also said they are aware of the resources LANL could offer but the department and its Army Engineer Corps partners are taking care of the situation. The Corps is also receiving help from other U.S. agencies, including the DOE’s Western Area Power Administration.
    According to the DOE, the efforts mark the largest temporary power mission in history for the 249th Engineer Battalion on U.S. soil.

  • University of Texas makes pitch to Regional Coalition

    If it wasn’t clear to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities that the University of Texas really wants to be the contractor that manages and operates the Los Alamos National Laboratory, it was the second time officials visited with the coalition Oct. 13 at its regular staff meeting.
    “Of course, we have our own self-interest and reasons for wanting to do this,” former staff member-turned-consultant for the University of Texas Susan Rogers said at the meeting. “This is a serious responsibility that offers a great opportunity in terms of research, visibility and industry partnerships for UT.”
    She also said it would also be great for students and faculty.
    “It will be a wonderful opportunity for our institutions, our faculty and our students. There are many reasons of our own for wanting to do this.”
    UT System is one of many contractors that have shown interest in being the next contractor to manage and operate the laboratory when the management and operations contract expires in September 2018. The NNSA put out a draft request for proposals in late July.
    UT System officials first met with the Regional Coalition in late August, when UT System’s vice chancellor David Daniel met with the coalition for a brief visit.

  • NNSA finishes W80-1 alteration

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has completed the First Production Unit (FPU) of the W80-1 Alteration (Alt) 369. This accomplishment is an important step toward maintaining nuclear capabilities that will help deter attacks on the United States and its allies.
    “The dedicated team at Pantex went above and beyond to complete this milestone before fiscal year 2017 came to a close,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application. “NNSA can now successfully kick off fiscal year 2018 by entering full production for the W80-1 Alt 369. Such modernization efforts are key to maintaining the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.”
    The W80-1, a warhead carried by the air-launched cruise missile, was first introduced to the stockpile in 1982. An alteration is a change to a component that does not alter the weapon’s operational capability.
    The Alt 369 replaces Limited Life Components in the warhead.

  • Study forecasts disappearance of conifers due to climate change

    A new study, led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, suggests that widespread loss of a major forest type, the pine-juniper woodlands of the Southwestern U.S., could be wiped out by the end of this century due to climate change, and that conifers throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere may be on a similar trajectory.
    “We have been uncertain about how big the risk of tree mortality was, but our ensemble of analyses — including experimental results, mechanistic regional models and more general global models— all show alarming rates of forest loss in coming decades,” said Los Alamos forest ecologist Nate McDowell, first author on the paper. “Given the recent climate talks in Paris and their focus on protecting forests, especially from deforestation, our results provide extra incentive to protect forests from the warming itself, which requires reducing emissions.”

  • RLUOB team gets award from DOE

    The Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building (RLUOB) Transition Team at Los Alamos National Laboratory received the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary’s Achievement Award for its teamwork and performance.
    LANL made an announcement of the award Tuesday.
    “What the National Nuclear Security Administration achieved with its contract partner on the RLUOB/REI Project is our goal — safe, high-quality, state-of-the-art facilities that provide a great value to the taxpayer,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines. “The NNSA and the RLUOB/REI Project team demonstrated that final metrics of cost and schedule can be achieved when clear expectations are set, the federal and contractor site and headquarters teams are aligned and all parties accept accountability for their role in project delivery.”
    LANL Director Charlie McMillan presented the RLUOB Transition Team with the award Aug. 28. The team consisted of Brett Cederdahl, David Gallimore, Tim Leckbee, Mark Myatt, Tim Nelson, Michael Parkes, Denise Thronas, Scott Warnock and Amy Wong.

  • Violation notice is sent to LANL

    The National Nuclear Security Administration is taking a long, hard look at problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to a letter from Frank Klotz to the lab dated Aug. 25.
    According to the letter, that was addressed to LANL director Charlie McMillian, the NNSA “considers the programmatic deficiencies in the LANS nuclear criticality safety program to be of high safety significance.” LANS is the contractor that manages the lab.
    Along with the letter to LANL, Klotz, who heads the NNSA, said LANL is receiving a Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV), which cited one severity level one violation and five severity level two violations. The violations come with a proposed base civil penalty, before mitigation, of $560,000.
    According to the PNOV, the Department of Energy conducted an investigation into deficiencies at the Plutonium Facility (PF-4) at Technical Area 55. Safety violations were first identified 10 years ago — prior to the award of the management contract to LANS — and continued as late as 2013.
    Among the violations cited included LANS’ failure to “develop adequate procedures and properly implement procedures,” train personnel properly and identify deficiencies that needed to be corrected at the facility.

  • Regional coalition approves letter

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities approved a letter to be sent to Dr. Monica C. Regalbuto, the newly appointed Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) in the Department of Energy (DOE), at its monthly board meeting earlier this month.
    The letter was a formal request that EM release information pertaining to the Life Cycle Baseline Cost stating the start-to-finish scope of work, including funding requirement, timeline of work and risk of each site, for cleaning up the legacy waste at LANL.
    The meeting was held Aug. 14 in the Santa Fe County Council Chambers.
    Regional Coalition members traveled to Washington, D.C., in February to request cleanup funding for FY16 in order to conduct an operation to reach desired cleanup results at EM sites.
    Following that trip, as well as other discussions with various appropriations staff members and Congressional officials, coalition members have been told that without a Life Cycle Baseline Cost they cannot properly defend their monetary requests for cleanup.