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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Scientists urge rehiring of fired nuke lab worker

    SANTA FE (AP) — A group of scientists who work to limit the spread of nuclear weapons is urging the U.S. Energy Secretary to intervene on behalf of a fired worker at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Santa Fe political scientist James Doyle says he was fired after 17 years on the job in July after writing an article for a nonprofit website in support of abolishing nuclear weapons.
    Doyle worked on the lab’s non-proliferation team.
    Federation of American Scientists President Charles Ferguson urged Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to ensure that that Doyle isn’t penalized for participating in the national dialogue over nuclear policy. Doyle tells the Santa Fe New Mexican he was fired after lab officials claimed his article raised classification concerns.
    He says the article had been cleared for publication. 

  • Cleanup project begins at upper Truck Route

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Corrective Actions Program has begun a legacy-contaminant soil cleanup project at the former Technical Area 61.
    Located on the south side of East Jemez Road adjacent to the county landfill, the project began on Aug. 11 and will last until mid-September.
    Crews will excavate about 120 cubic yards of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are common in industrial sites, from a utility corridor where a leaking transformer was staged in the past. The contamination is underground, covered with clean soil, and poses no human health risks.
    “This is yet another step in a larger effort to clean up sites around Los Alamos that are more accessible to the public,” said Corrective Actions Program Director Dave McInroy. “We hope to increase this type of work during the next two years.”
    Crews will use an excavator to remove contaminated soil and replace it with fresh fill. The work will occur behind temporary fencing and is not expected to impact traffic.
    “We look forward to doing this work safely and returning the site in good environmental condition which will not restrict future use,” McInroy said.
     

  • LANL still looking for answers

    Last Friday, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities received updates on the Feb, 14 radiological release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. LANL WIPP Recovery Leader and Principal Associate Director For Global Security Terry Wallace and Jeff Kendall, general counsel for the New Mexico Environment Department, provided the updates.
    The event occurred just two weeks after a drum of radioactive waste processed at Los Alamos National Laboratory was placed at WIPP. The breached drum was part of a shipment from the 3,706 campaign to remove 3,706 cubic meters of above ground transuranic waste from lab property.
    The campaign was 93 percent complete when the incident occurred and WIPP shipments were halted.
    Wallace reported that 300 LANL scientists with a range of expertise have performed roughly 3,000 experiments to determine the cause of the breach.
    That work has revealed some answers, but not definitive ones. Experts have determined that the breach in the drum was caused by a series of step-wise exothermic reactions.

  • 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.