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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • McMillan reacts to EM taking over cleanup

    Los Alamos National Laboratory director Charlie McMillan sent an email to employees Friday, announcing four Los Alamos National Laboratory workers have been reassigned and the Department of Energy has pulled nuclear waste cleanup operations from the contractor that runs the lab after a barrel of waste packed at Los Alamos leaked.
    The email obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor read: “the laboratory today is implementing a number of measures aimed at supporting the Department of Energy’s objectives to reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) repository near Carlsbad.
    “Among the actions are changes in our leadership responsible for managing our environmental cleanup and transuranic waste operations. I have asked Deputy Associate Director Enrique (Kiki) Torres to serve as acting lead for our Environmental Programs while the Lab works with DOE to develop a path forward.
    “These actions come after a number of internal investigations and reviews since the February discovery of a leak underground at WIPP from a waste drum that originated here at Los Alamos. Although the exact causes of the leak are still under investigation, I have determined that today’s changes are necessary now as part of our continued recovery actions.

  • DOE EM to take over cleanup work at LANL

    Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz directed the Office of Environmental Management and the National Nuclear Security Administration to develop a plan for the transition of legacy environmental cleanup work at the Department’s Los Alamos site from NNSA to EM.
    A statement released Friday by a DOE spokesperson said, “the safe and efficient cleanup of the Los Alamos Site in New Mexico is a high priority for the Department of Energy. The Secretary of Energy has directed the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Office of Environmental Management (EM) to develop a plan for the transition of the Los Alamos Site legacy environmental cleanup work from NNSA to EM.
    “This will align the focus and accountability of cleanup work with the Department’s environmental management program and enable the Los Alamos site prime contractor, Los Alamos National Security, to continue its focus on the core national security missions at the site. NNSA and EM will work together to evaluate all elements necessary for an effective transition including federal oversight, acquisition strategies, and quality, safety and security.”

  • Johnson named new NNSA security chief

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that Jeffrey Johnson has been named the Chief of Defense Nuclear Security and Associate Administrator for NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Security effective Tuesday.
    In this role, he will be responsible for the development and implementation of security programs for the NNSA.
    “Jeffrey brings a wealth of experience to NNSA and is eminently qualified to take on the challenges of his new position,” said DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz. “I am pleased he will serve our nation in this new role, and I am confident that he will use his expertise to ensure that the security is maintained at all NNSA facilities.”
    Johnson has an extensive security background from his time on active duty and as a civilian Marine, including the protection of nuclear weapons, Navy nuclear propulsion, and other high value assets. Previously he was head of U.S. Marine Corps Civilian Law Enforcement where he was responsible for all aspects of installation policing and security.
    Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology/criminology from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in security and safety leadership from George Washington University.  

  • Study Group to host forum tonight at Fuller Lodge

    From 6-8 p.m. today at Fuller Lodge, the Los Alamos Study Group will host a public discussion about the future of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s three big labs: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).
    Everyone is welcome. There is no charge but donations will be gratefully accepted.
    The discussion is timed to coincide with the new, congressionally-mandated Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories (CRENEL), which is in the first phase of its review.
    CRENEL will evaluate whether the 17 Department of Energy (DOE) labs, including the three NNSA labs, properly address DOE’s priorities and have clear, non-duplicative missions and unique capabilities “for current and future energy and national security challenges.”
    CRENEL will evaluate the size of the labs, whether consolidation or realignment are appropriate, whether universities or other technology centers would be better for some of their work, as well as how to improve lab-directed research and development (LDRD).

  • Researchers uncover new properties in nanocomposite oxide ceramics for reactor fuel

    Nanocomposite oxide ceramics have potential uses as ferroelectrics, fast ion conductors, and nuclear fuels and for storing nuclear waste, generating a great deal of scientific interest on the structure, properties, and applications of these blended materials.
    “The interfaces separating the different crystalline regions determine the transport, electrical and radiation properties of the material as a whole,” said Pratik Dholabhai, principal Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher on the project.
     “It is in the chemical makeup of these interfaces where we can improve features such as tolerance against radiation damage and fast ion conduction.”

  • LANS OKs $3 million in funding

     The Los Alamos National Security, LLC Board of Governors has approved $3 million in funding for the company’s plan to support education, economic development and charitable giving in Northern New Mexico.
    “This plan demonstrates our bond with the community and its people and businesses that support our national security mission,” laboratory director Charlie McMillan said. “It sustains the mutually beneficial programs that make Los Alamos one of the best places to live and work.”
    Los Alamos National Security, LLC since 2006 has been the managing and operating contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory. Funds approved by the LANS Board of Governors are administered through a Community Commitment Plan managed by Los Alamos’ Community Programs Office.
    The LANS Community Commitment Plan has provided more than $28 million to the region since 2007.
    For 2015 the plan will provide:
    • $1 million for education, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs
    • $1 million for economic development, such as financial and technical assistance to start and grow regional businesses 

  • Collaboration drives achievement in protein research

    When this week’s print issue of the journal Science comes out, a collective cheer will go up from New Mexico, Montana and even the Netherlands, thanks to the type of collaborative effort that is more and more the norm in these connected times.
    The research will produce innovations in biology, medicine, biotechnology and agriculture. It could save lives, and it happened because this scientist talked with that one, that one knew another one, and they overcame geographic distance to advance human understanding.
    “It is tremendously exciting working with researchers around the world, helping them apply the software and algorithms that we have developed to see the inner workings of molecular machines,” said Thomas Terwilliger, a senior Los Alamos scientist and Laboratory Fellow.
    In this case, researchers at Montana State University have provided the first blueprint of a bacterium’s “molecular machinery,” showing how bacterial immune systems fight off the viruses that infect them. By tracking down how bacterial defense systems work, the scientists can potentially fight infectious diseases and genetic disorders. The key is a repetitive piece of DNA in the bacterial genome called a CRISPR, for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

  • Collaboration drives achievement in protein research

    When this week’s print issue of the journal Science comes out, a collective cheer will go up from New Mexico, Montana and even the Netherlands, thanks to the type of collaborative effort that is more and more the norm in these connected times.
    The research will produce innovations in biology, medicine, biotechnology and agriculture. It could save lives, and it happened because this scientist talked with that one, that one knew another one, and they overcame geographic distance to advance human understanding.
    “It is tremendously exciting working with researchers around the world, helping them apply the software and algorithms that we have developed to see the inner workings of molecular machines,” said Thomas Terwilliger, a senior Los Alamos scientist and Laboratory Fellow.
    In this case, researchers at Montana State University have provided the first blueprint of a bacterium’s “molecular machinery,” showing how bacterial immune systems fight off the viruses that infect them. By tracking down how bacterial defense systems work, the scientists can potentially fight infectious diseases and genetic disorders. The key is a repetitive piece of DNA in the bacterial genome called a CRISPR, for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

  • LANL conducts experiment in Nevada

     Los Alamos National Laboratory has successfully fired the latest in a series of experiments at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).
    
“Leda is an integrated experiment that provides important surrogate hydrodynamic materials data in support of the Laboratory’s stewardship of the U. S. nuclear deterrent,” said Bob Webster, Associate Director for Weapons Physics.
    
The experiment, conducted on Aug. 12, 2014, consisted of a plutonium surrogate material and high explosives to implode a “weapon-relevant geometry,” according to Webster.
    
Hydrodynamic experiments such as Leda involve non-nuclear surrogate materials that mimic many of the properties of nuclear materials. Hydrodynamics refers to the physics involved when solids, under extreme conditions, begin to mix and flow like liquids. Other hydrodynamic experiments conducted at NNSS use small amounts of nuclear material, and are called “sub-critical” because they do not contain enough material to cause a nuclear explosion.

  • New exhibit to open at Bradbury

    The Bradbury Science Museum unveils a new interactive exhibit at 4 p.m., Wednesday featuring the rich history and current research into archaeology, wildlife biology, local climate and sustainability efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    “Our role is to support the mission of the laboratory while being good stewards of the environment,” said Jen Payne, a team leader in the laboratory’s Environmental Stewardship Services Group and exhibit curator. “The National Historic Preservation Act requires us to share our knowledge of cultural resources with the public. This new exhibit helps us to do public outreach and provide virtual access to some of the unique archaeological sites situated on laboratory property.”
    The exhibit is titled “Environmental Research and Monitoring.” Opening remarks start at 5 p.m., and a talk on the laboratory’s annual Environmental Report is scheduled for 6 p.m. During the evening, two of the Bradbury’s Scientist Ambassadors will be “Scientists in the Spotlight,” with engaging face-to-face materials prompting conversations about fresh water and sea ice. Attendees also can play the “Thirst for Power” game that explores the nexus of energy, water and climate.