If you thought your week has been challenging due to the unpredictable weather, it was nothing compared to what hazardous material technicians had to face during Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 18th Annual Hazmat Challenge.
Facing real-world chemical leak scenarios of all types: indoor, outdoor, overturned trucks, leaking railcars and other challenges, hazmat techs from all over the nation competed at Tech Area 49 this week to see who did the best, and safest job of cleaning up the simulated spills. According to Chris Rittner, a Hazmat and training specialist with LANL, the weather only slowed down the competition a little bit.
“We kind of take a ‘train like you fight’ mentality. If it’s raining lightly, that doesn’t stop us. The only thing that stops us is heavy rain or lightning, and that’s just strictly a safety issue, because we don’t want undue safety hazards while conducting training exercises,” he said.
Started in 1996, the competition was originally just meant to sharpen the skills of LANL’s hazardous materials teams, but the competition quickly grew by word of mouth to include teams from across the nation.