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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Hazmat Challenge set for July 30

    Twelve hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 17th annual Hazmat Challenge July 30 through Aug. 2 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    “The challenge provides hazardous materials responders the opportunity to test their skills, network with other response agencies, and learn new techniques through realistic hazardous materials release scenarios in a safe, non-hazardous environment,” said Chris Rittner of the Laboratory’s Emergency Operations Division.
    Held at Los Alamos’ Technical Area 49, the event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving a rail car, a clandestine laboratory, various modes of transportation, industrial piping scenarios, a simulated radiological release and a confined space event.
    The finale of the Hazmat Challenge is a skills-based obstacle course; teams are graded and earn points based on their ability to perform response skills through a 10-station obstacle course while using fully encapsulating personal protective equipment.
    The Laboratory began the Hazmat Challenge in 1996 as a way to hone the skills of its own hazmat team members.  

  • Lab declassifies top-secret super-secure vault--Video Extra

    Down a remote canyon near Los Alamos National Laboratory lies a facility known as the “Tunnel Vault,” once one of the most secret and secure locations in the country, it’s the original post-WWII nuclear stockpile storage area.

    Located in Los Alamos canyon at Technical Area 41, the Tunnel Vault was built between 1948 and 1949. The facility has a formidable security perimeter, a hardened guard tower — complete with gun ports and bulletproof glass — and a series of gates and doors that lead to a 230-foot long concrete tunnel that goes straight into the canyon wall.

  • Two Bradbury exhibits open as part of LANL's 70th anniversary celebration

    Two new exhibits open July 26 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Bradbury Science Museum as part of the laboratory’s 70th Anniversary celebration.

    One is a nanotechnology exhibit featuring the lab’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) and the other is an algae biofuel exhibit from the laboratory and the New Mexico Consortium.

    An opening reception for the two exhibits is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the downtown museum.

    “We’re pleased to open two new exhibits, on some of the Laboratory’s latest research, as part of our 70th anniversary year. I’m sure these exhibits will broaden the public’s knowledge and appreciation of Los Alamos National Laboratory,” Bradbury Science Museum Director Linda Deck said.

    “Nanotechnology—The Science of the Small,” demonstrates the importance of understanding how nanoparticles work, while “Algae to Biofuels: Squeezing Power from Pond Scum,” gives visitors an overview of algae biofuels.

  • Princeton prof who worked on Manhattan Project dies

    Princeton University nuclear physicist Rubby Sherr, whose work on the Manhattan Project helped usher in the Atomic Age and whose academic publications span nearly 80 years, died July 8 of natural causes at the Quadrangle independent-living community in Haverford, Pa. He was 99.

    Colleagues and family describe Sherr — whose name is pronounced “Ruby” — as a tireless researcher with an engaging personality. He was a raconteur and connoisseur of jokes, fly-fishing and folk songs whose exploration of nuclear physics persisted until shortly before his death. Sherr published his first paper in 1936 while a graduate student at Princeton, and published his last six papers this year. He spent nearly 40 years at Princeton, joining the faculty in 1946 and transferring to professor of physics, emeritus, in 1982.

  • DNFSB report details safety issues at PF-4

    More details became available this week about the stand-down of activities in the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory last month that was ordered by lab director Charlie McMillan.

    The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board sent a letter and report to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, detailing some of the criticality issues surrounding the work being done at PF-4.

    “The current pause at PF-4 is aimed at addressing the concerns in the letter and others identified by lab employees and managers,” lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said. “However, the letter is addressed to Secretary Moniz and Acting Administrator (Bruce) Held, so we would respectfully ask that you direct your questions to DOE and NNSA.”

    DOE and NNSA officials did not respond to requests for comment.

    The report, meanwhile, pointed to a number of issues including a lack of safety personnel and lax control of operating procedures.

    The biggest issue is a significant shortage of Los Alamos National Security criticality safety staff has hindered the ability of LANS to address deficiencies at the facility, and the backlog of unresolved criticality safety issues continues to grow.

  • Biofuels take center stage

    Bradbury Science Museum will host an open house event, featuring the New Mexico Consortium’s Biofuel Exhibit, from 5-8 p.m. July 26.

    There will be a brief presentation by Dr. Jose Olivares, Bioscience Division Leader, from 6- 6:15 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

    “Algae to Biofuels: Squeezing Power from Pond Scum” is brainchild of Olivares of LANL and Dr. Richard Sayre of NMC and LANL.

    The exhibits highlight the work of the NMC and algae researchers at LANL, UNM and NMSU to create an informative, educational, interactive exhibit to display at the Bradbury Museum.

    The NMC plans to develop the exhibit for a broad audience to take it “on the road” as part of the NMC’s educational outreach program.

    Why algae?

    Some experts believe that algae is set to eclipse all other biofuel feedstocks as the cheapest, easiest, and most environmentally friendly way to produce liquid fuel. Come learn why it’s easy to get excited by algae, how fast they grow, how they can help humanity and the environment.

    The exhibit talks about the 8,000 kinds of algae and how we find the strains with the potential to replace fossil fuels. Learn about the latest research on algae to produce high value products and how it is harvested and processed.

  • Enabling time travel for the scholarly web

    An international team of information scientists has begun a two-year study to investigate how web links in scientific and other academic articles fail to lead to the resources being referenced.
    This is the focus of the Hiberlink project in which the team from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Edinburgh will assess the extent of “reference rot” using a vast corpus of online scholarly work. It is funded by a grant of $500,000 from the US-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, coordinated by EDINA, the designated online services center at the University of Edinburg, which serves the needs of universities and colleges across the UK.
    “Increasingly, scientific papers contain links to web pages containing, for example, project descriptions, demonstrations, and software. But, as we all know, web pages change or disappear,” said Herbert Van de Sompel, the Los Alamos principal investigator on the project. “Currently, there is no archival infrastructure to safeguard such pages and hence revisiting them some time after they were linked from a paper is many times impossible. The result is a broken scholarly record.”

  • Norris Bradbury's impact on LANL discussed

    Who is Norris Bradbury? He has been called the “savior” of Los Alamos and even the “father” of the federal laboratory system, yet many people have not heard of him.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory historian Alan Carr discussed his life, career and influence of Norris Bradbury in the first of two  brown bag public lectures at the Bradbury Science Museum.

    The first lecture Tuesday covered Bradbury’s young life, work on the Manhattan Project and post World War II time. The second lecture on Aug. 21 will focus on why the lab evolved into a multidisciplinary institution and Bradbury’s legacy. Employees and the public are welcome to bring their lunch. 

    Lecture scheduled tonight

  • Pajarito Road access tightened by LANL security

    Los Alamos National Laboratory at the direction of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office will restrict access on Pajarito Road to only laboratory badge holders effective Monday, Aug. 12.

    This means that laboratory personnel and subcontractors will no longer be able to “vouch” for non-laboratory personnel such as family members.

    “Our laboratory and security access procedures are continually reviewed and updated to ensure we provide a secure working environment for our employees and visitors,” said Michael Lansing, the laboratory’s Associate Director for Security and Safeguards. “Entry to the Pajarito Corridor provides access to our most sensitive areas and now is restricted to those with a valid reason and badge to enter this area.”

    Pajarito Road has been access controlled for several years. Only individuals who have federal or Laboratory issued badges can travel this road, which traverses through several Laboratory technical areas and intersects with N.M. 4 on the east end and Diamond Drive on the west end near the main Technical Area 3.

    The laboratory and the Los Alamos Field Office of the NNSA are in the process of notifying local government and school officials, about the planned changes to access on Pajarito Road.

  • Lab set to tighten security on Pajarito Road

    Los Alamos National Laboratory at the direction of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office will restrict access on Pajarito Road to only Laboratory badge holders effective Monday, Aug. 12. This means that Laboratory personnel and subcontractors will no longer be able to “vouch” for non-Laboratory personnel such as family members.

    “Our Laboratory and security access procedures are continually reviewed and updated to ensure we provide a secure working environment for our employees and visitors,” said Michael Lansing, the Laboratory’s Associate Director for Security and Safeguards. “Entry to the Pajarito Corridor provides access to our most sensitive areas and now is restricted to those with a valid reason and badge to enter this area.”

    Pajarito Road has been access controlled for several years. Only individuals who have federal or Laboratory issued badges can travel this road, which traverses through several Laboratory technical areas and intersects with NM 4 on the east end and Diamond Drive on the west end near the main Technical Area 3.

    The Laboratory and the Los Alamos Field Office of the NNSA are in the process of notifying local government and school officials, about the planned changes to access on Pajarito Road.