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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • LANL 6 plan to appeal

    The attorney for a group of anti-nuclear demonstrators recently filed an appeal on their behalf, just weeks after being found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of obstructing movement and “refusing to obey an officer.”

    “The motion asks Judge Kirk to reverse his decision and find the six defendants not guilty of obstructing movement and reduce the charge of refusing to obey an officer with time served with no probation, fines or costs,” Attorney Jeff Haas said in a written statement.

    Haas said in court that technically, his clients did not block the roadway, since police formed a barrier around the group and redirected traffic to go around them. In his official appeal, Haas also noted that Los Alamos’ municipal code states that authorized roadblocks referred to physical objects such as signs and barriers, and not to people.

    “The statute is clearly referring to a physical object that would be ‘placed or erected,’ and not to a person standing in the roadway,” Haas said.

    In municipal court Jan. 8, Kirk sentenced the six protesters, assigning a $100 fine for each charge and added $41 in court costs plus a $60 probation fee. Together, each of the six was ordered to pay $342. The maximum penalty was 179 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

  • Griego to leave LASO

    Juan Griego will be leaving his post as the Los Alamos Site Office acting manager in March for a two-year stint with the New Mexico National Guard.

    Griego, a native of Española and a Los Alamos High School graduate, made the announcement to LASO employees earlier this week.

    And the NNSA Los Alamos Site Office released a statement this morning, confirming his departure in March.

    “I have been blessed with the opportunities to serve with both the Department of Energy/NNSA here in Los Alamos for over 26 years and the New Mexico National Guard for over 30 years. Recently, the New Mexico National Guard requested my service as the Deputy Adjutant General on a full-time basis, for up to a two-year period,” Griego said.

    “I have always valued both my military and civil service, and am honored to be considered to serve as the Deputy Adjutant General for the New Mexico National Guard.  This request has been vetted through the NNSA up to the administrator level and approved, reflecting the value that NNSA places on military service contributions by federal civil-service employees.

  • Watchdogs react to 'waiver'

    Reaction has been a bit slow but watchdog groups are weighing in on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s decision that gave the Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a one-year contract extension through a one-time waiver.

    According to documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, the lab originally was not awarded a one-year contract extension. But acting NNSA administrator Neile Miller reversed the recommendation.

    Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch NM Program director commented, “By getting these performance evaluations released publically, Nuclear Watch expects that outraged taxpayers will demand more NNSA oversight and an end to the federal government paying the usual nuclear weapons contractors millions without enforcing performance accountability. Nuke Watch is going back to Congress to demand that it require measurable performance benchmarks before enriching the nuclear weapons contractors. In these tough economic times Americans should expect nothing less.”

    Los Alamos National Security met two of the three criteria but earned less than 80 percent overall at-risk fees in its performance evaluation.

  • ChemCam follows road to Martian Wet Area

    Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the French Space Agency have tracked a trail of minerals that point to the prior presence of water at the Curiosity rover site on Mars.

    Researchers from the Mars Science Laboratory’s ChemCam team described how the laser instrument aboard the Curiosity Rover — an SUV-sized vehicle studying the surface of the Red Planet — has detected veins of gypsum running through an area known as Yellowknife Bay, located some 700 meters away from where the Curiosity Rover landed five months ago.

    “These veins are composed mainly of hydrated calcium sulfate, such as bassinite or gypsum,” said ChemCam team member Nicolas Mangold, of the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes, in Nantes, France.

    “On Earth, forming veins like these requires water circulating in fractures.”

  • Lab received NNSA waiver

    There is more to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s 2012 performance evaluation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory than meets the eye.

    According to documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, the lab received a one-time waiver from the NNSA fee determining official — principal deputy administrator Neile Miller.

    In a letter from former Los Alamos Site Office head Kevin Smith to Miller, the award term (one-year contract extension) originally was not granted. But at the bottom of the letter, the no is scratched out with a notation, “Yes. Contingent on LANS letter attached.”

    That LANS letter was written by DOE Senior Procurement Executive Joseph Waddell to lab director Charlie McMillan, dated on Dec. 7. The letter stated that Los Alamos National Security had been granted a waiver for the FY-12 NNSA fee by the Fee Determining Official (Miller).

    According to the letter, LANS met two of the three criteria but earned less than 80 percent overall at-risk fees.

  • Agency selects firm to manage contract

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a move that shapes the future of the United States’ nuclear security enterprise and will save $3.27 billion in taxpayer dollars over the next decade, the National Nuclear Security Administration has announced that Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC has been selected to be the management and operating contractor for the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.
    The contract also includes construction project management of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and an option for Savannah River Tritium Operations at the Savannah River Site in near Aiken, S.C.
    Comprised of Bechtel National, Inc; Lockheed Martin Services, Inc; ATK Launch Systems, Inc; and SOC, LLC, CNS will begin a four-month transition immediately. Additionally, CNS will use subcontractors Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc as Merger and Transformation specialist, and General Atomics for Savannah River Tritium Operations if that option is exercised by NNSA in the future.

  • Homestead lecture kicks off series

    In commemoration of its 70th anniversary, Los Alamos National Laboratory kicks off a year-long lecture series at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a presentation about homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau at the Bradbury Science Museum.
    The inaugural lecture is based on a book by local writers Dorothy Hoard, Judy Machen and Ellen McGehee, about the area’s settlement between 1887 and 1942.
    On hikes across the Pajarito Plateau, Hoard envisioned the Los Alamos area before modern roads and bridges made transportation much easier. The trails she walked along were once old roads, often steep, with parts carved with picks and axes out of the tuff bedrock. The roads differed from trails in that they had to be wide enough to accommodate a wagon and not too steep for a horse to pull the wagon’s contents up the Los Alamos cliffs.
    Hoard developed a curiosity about the early settlers who used ordinary tools available to them to build roads and expand their settlement of the region. Her growing interest led to collaboration with Machen and McGehee. The result is the book, “Homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau, 1887-1942.”

  • Bill includes CMRR funding

    Last week, President Barack Obama signed the FY13 defense authorization law and in that bill, there is a little bit of life for the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.

    The legislation permits up to $70 million in new funds for the building’s construction in the budget year that runs through Sept. 30, and it makes available $120 million in money previously appropriated for the project.

    The bill also establishes a $3.7 billion spending cap for the structure, which is intended to assume the responsibilities of PF-4.

    The text would require the Energy Department to give lawmakers a “detailed justification” for any projected CMRR spending in excess of the threshold.

    “We’ll move forward and get a plan in place as the law requires,” National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Josh McConaha said in a statement. “At this point, we still need funding from Congress to ensure continuity of important mission capabilities, and we’re working with them to get it done. Either way, it’s too early to know what the plan will entail or what our final approach will be.”

    In February of last year, the Obama administration and the NNSA deferred the project for five years and Los Alamos National Laboratory has been closing down the project.

  • Protesters head to court next week

    They call themselves the “LANL Six.”

    On Wednesday, the six protesters who were arrested at the gate to the Los Alamos National Laboratory Aug. 6, will make a court appearance in Los Alamos Municipal Court before Judge Alan Kirk.

    The six protesters were charged with trespass, refusing to obey an officer and obstructing movement. Each could spend 179 days in jail and be fined up to $1,500.  

    The LANL Six are Pam Gilchrist and Cathie Sullivan of Santa Fe; Benjamin (Summer) Abbott, Janet Greenwald and Barbara Grothus of Albuquerque; and Wind Euler of Tucson, Ariz.

    The LANL Six, their supporters and their defense team, have invited the public to join them from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 107 West Barcelona St., Santa Fe.

    Also, they invite all environmental and anti-nuclear activists to demonstrate outside of the courthouse on the morning of their trial.

  • Lab gets 80 percent of possible fee

    Los Alamos National Lab Director Charlie McMillan sent out a memo to employees Friday that detailed the National Nuclear Security Administration’s evaluation of the lab.

    According to the memo obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, McMillan, who said the lab worked through a $400 million shortfall, told employees the lab scored 80 percent and the Los Alamos National Security, LLC, was awarded another year on its contract.

    Out of a possible total of $74.5 million, NNSA awarded LANS a combined total of $59.6 million in fees for executing more than $2.2 billion in work for the nation in FY 2012.

    “To be sure, our performance evaluation is only one measure of our success,” McMillan wrote. “I have always maintained that if we do the right thing for our customers and the nation, the award term and fee will take care of themselves.

    “They are, however, a documented evaluation of how the government values our work. This year, we have very plain evidence of how issues in safety or project execution can overshadow a very successful year when measured in other ways.”

    McMillan said the extra year awarded was significant.