Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Watchdogs applaud stalling of park bill

    Not everyone was disappointed to hear about the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act’s stall in the U.S. Senate.

    Greg Mello, secretary and executive director for the Los Alamos Study Group, responded to the Los Alamos Monitor’s query by saying, “We are pleased that the proposed park was dropped from the defense bill and we will oppose it again next year.

    “It’s basically a propaganda and lobbying initiative that will benefit nuclear weapons contractors. It is not now and will never be an objective interpretation of history. Creating such a park inherently endorses the Manhattan Project and its modern-day successor activities as positive national achievements. Indeed that is the purpose of the proposal.

    “Supposedly ‘objective’ background materials supporting the Park proposal are already one-sided, significantly incomplete and historically incorrect.

    “If the Park is established, we hope to help make it a Mecca for protest activity of all kinds. The Manhattan Project and the atomic bombing of Japan were national mistakes. Los Alamos has played, and continues to play, a heavy role in weakening U.S. national security and misdirecting national priorities.”

  • Stockpile lecture on tap

    The role Los Alamos National Laboratory plays in stockpile stewardship is the focus of the final 70th Anniversary Lecture Wednesday at the Bradbury Science Museum. Jon Ventura, Los Alamos’s executive staff advisor to the Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs, will give the talk beginning at 5:30 p.m.
    Ventura’s talk, titled “Stockpile Stewardship: Keeping the Nation’s Stockpile Safe, Secure and Reliable with Science and Engineering,” will highlight some of the experimental, engineering and computational tools used to monitor nuclear weapons.
    The talk will also focus on how the Laboratory fits into the broader Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration complex, the relationships with United States’ armed forces and how stewardship tools solve national security challenges.
    For decades, the laboratory designed, tested and built weapons for the stockpile; however, that paradigm shifted from 1989 to 1992 with the closure of Rocky Flats, the end of nuclear testing and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

  • LANL names four fellows

    Four scientists are being inducted into the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows, a distinguished organization that honors outstanding contributions to science and technology. This week, laboratory director Charles McMillan appoints new Fellows Mark Chadwick, Cheryl Kuske, Geoff Reeves and Frank Pabian.

    “In our field, to be recognized by one’s peers is the highest of honors,” said McMillan. “Congratulations to Mark, Cheryl, Geoff and Frank. Their creativity and innovation have led to great accomplishments in national security science. I thank them for their service.”

    Laboratory Fellows are lauded for their sustained, high-level achievements and exceptional promise. Fewer than two percent of the lab’s technical staff attain fellow status, and for 30 years the fellows’ organization has helped guide the laboratory’s scientific direction. The fellows also organize symposia and public lectures and administer prizes for outstanding research and leadership in science and engineering.

    This year’s inductees are as follows:

  • LANL begins shipments to Idaho

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has made the first of its 18 shipments of transuranic (TRU) waste to the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project at Idaho National Laboratory.

    The first shipment left Los Alamos, Nov, 13, according to lab spokesman Fred DeSousa.

    “Known as MTRU, or mixed transuranic waste, the material requires special handling because it consists mostly of large, metal equipment with sharp edges. By using equipment and technology available at the Idaho site, this waste can be remotely repackaged safely and efficiently with far fewer hazards for workers,” Desousa said in a statement. He added, “Removing such waste from Los Alamos facilitates the lab’s effort to meet our commitments with New Mexico. In addition, the three-site operation demonstrates DOE-EM’s ability to meet the challenge of conducting high priority but technically complex environmental management operations.”

    In all 46 cubic meters will be shipped to Idaho and eventually back to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

    The shipments are part of the lab’s campaign to remove 3,706 cubic meters of TRU-Waste by the end of June.

    On Friday, DeSousa said, “We ended FY 13 having shipped 2,745 cubic meters vs. our goal of 2,600 toward the campaign goal of 3,706.”

  • NNSA conducts training for Iraqi first responders

    The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) this week is conducting an Advanced International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER) course in Las Vegas, Nev., for a group of 15 Iraqi first responders headed by the Iraqi Radioactive Source Regulatory Authority (IRSRA).
    The course focuses on border radiation monitoring, alarm interdiction and adjudication, characterization of detained or suspect cargo, and source recovery with extensive hands-on equipment operations using a wide range of radiation sources.
    “This course demonstrates NNSA’s commitment in assisting Iraqi first responders to be prepared to handle hazardous material following a radiological incident or event,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Emergency Operations Joseph Krol. “We will continue to provide our technical expertise and assistance to Iraq and to countries around the world.”
    The course, a follow on to a March 2013 I-RAPTER course taught in Amman, Jordan, for Iraq and Jordon, is being conducted by personnel from NNSA and taught by instructors from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., and NSTec’s Remote Sensing Laboratory from Joint Base Andrews and Nellis Air Force Base.

  • Lab gets two new associate directors

    Los Alamos National Laboratory recently announced two new associate directors: Mary Hockaday is the associate director of the Experimental Physical Sciences Directorate and Cheryl Cabbil joined the laboratory Monday as associate director for Nuclear and High Hazard Operations.

    “Mary is a 30-year veteran of the lab and currently serves in a joint role as the deputy associate director for the Weapons Physics directorate as well as leading LANL’s MaRIE signature facility effort,” said laboratory director Charlie McMillan. “She is skilled and passionate in communicating with the scientific and customer communities on issues concerning laboratory capabilities and national security.”

    “Cheryl brings a distinguished track record for developing and implementing nuclear facility management programs, for improving nuclear and high hazard conduct of operations, nuclear safety bases, integrated safety management, R&D laboratory operations and nuclear quality assurance,” McMillan said. “She has demonstrated leadership skill in working with regulators, including the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, stakeholders and staff to identify common ground and gain consensus.”

  • Ex-lab employee requests new lawyer

    A defense lawyer says a former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist who admitted communicating classified nuclear weapons data may try to withdraw his guilty plea.
    Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.
    The couple pleaded guilty in June in federal court in Albuquerque, but a Nov. 27 court filing by a federal public defender says Pedro Mascheroni may seek to withdraw his plea.
    The filing was made in connection with Mascheroni’s pending request to obtain new court-appointed lawyers.
    The public defender, Richard Winterbottom, said it was a “future possibility” that Mascheroni would change his plea but did not elaborate.
    In the filing, Winterbottom asked a judge to keep confidential a 35-page letter that Mascheroni had written the judge to express dissatisfaction with his current lawyers and to ask for appointment of new ones.
    Release would disclose Mascheroni’s defense strategy, Winterbottom wrote.
    Federal prosecutors have yet to respond to Mascheroni’s request that they not be allowed to see his letter.

  • NNSA awards funding

      The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced this week the award of a cooperative agreement that accelerates the dual objectives of eliminating the use of proliferation-sensitive highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production of medical isotopes and establishing reliable domestic supplies of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) to meet U.S. patient needs.
    Mo-99 is used frequently in common medical diagnostic procedures. The cooperative agreement with NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC provides support toward NorthStar’s Mo-99 production capability using neutron-capture technology, which it is pursuing in partnership with the University of Missouri Research Reactor.
    “This cooperative agreement demonstrates that the government and commercial industry can work together to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation while providing stability to an important part of the medical radioisotope market,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington.
    “The development of commercial technologies to produce Mo-99 without the use of HEU will ensure that patients have access to the care they need while supporting global nuclear nonproliferation objectives.”

  • Lab launches podcast, webinar series

    Podcasts and webinars are among the new communications tools being rolled out by Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Community Programs Office to reach a broader audience.

    The first podcast discusses economic development and the Northern New Mexico 20/20 Campaign, a program spearheaded by the Regional Development Corporation of Española that recognizes high growth businesses in the region.

    “We’re thrilled to be able to better connect with more people in our community through the new podcasts, webinars and other social media venues we have planned,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of the laboratory’s Community Programs Office.

    Steinhaus interviewed Regional Development Corporation Executive Director Kathy Keith for the initial podcast. The podcast is available via iTunes and other online venues.

    All of the podcasts will be archived at soundcloud.com/lanl-cpo/ and blogtalkradio.com/lanlcommunity.

    The second podcast, currently in production, focuses on the work that United Way is doing in the community and features Craig Strong of United Way of Santa Fe County and Kristy Ortega of United Way of Northern New Mexico, as well as Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 2014 Employee Giving Campaign, now under way.

  • Ex-lab worker may change plea

    A former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist accused of communicating classified nuclear weapons data is trying to get new court-appointed defense lawyers and may seek to withdraw his guilty plea.

    Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni and his wife were accused of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.

    Mascheroni, 78, meanwhile, is back in jail under an order of federal district judge William P. Johnson.

    More on this story in Thursday’s Los Alamos Monitor.