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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Nuclear weapons pioneer dies in Chicago

    Julius Tabin, a member of Enrico Fermi’s personal team at the Trinity Site blast in 1945, died in Chicago of heart failure at the age of 92 last month.

    Tabin joined a small group of physicists working on the Manhattan Project, first at the University of Chicago and then at Los Alamos.

    As part of Fermi’s team, he assisted in a series of studies that included measuring the efficiency of the first atomic test blast.

    After the blast, Tabin rode in a lead-lined Sherman tank to ground zero to be the first to collect a core sample of earth for analysis. Due to exposure to excessive radiation while gathering this material, he was restricted from conducting further physics research for an extended period.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, he turned to the law, where his background in physics and his contacts with other pioneers of the atomic age made him the go-to attorney for those who began to form companies in the new industry of nuclear energy.

    “With all those personal contacts, he was quite a rainmaker for the firm,” said Jim Schumann, now of counsel to the intellectual property law firm of Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery, where Tabin practiced for 56 years before retiring in 2006.

  • DOE awards oversight grant

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a grant for an estimated $1.6 million to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).
    The five-year grant funds an agreement for NMED to conduct non-regulatory environmental oversight and monitoring to evaluate activities conducted at DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad.   
    NMED evaluates DOE activities related to WIPP’s environmental monitoring and cleanup.  This award is made in accordance with the Department of Energy Organization Act, Public Law 95-91.
    The DOE WIPP facility is designed to safely isolate defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste from people and the environment. Waste temporarily stored at sites around the country is shipped to WIPP and permanently disposed in rooms mined out of an ancient salt formation 2,150 feet below the surface.  
    WIPP began waste disposal operations in 1999.  The facility is located 26 miles outside of Carlsbad.

  • Mousseau to head LANL program

    Los Alamos National Laboratory announced Tuesday that Jeffrey Mousseau has been hired as the new associate director for Environmental Programs.

    Mousseau currently works as a senior project manager for the laboratory’s transuranic waste disposal program. In his new position, he will oversee this program as well as other key environmental cleanup and monitoring activities.

    “Jeff shares my personal commitment to sustaining the current momentum of waste removal and cleanup that the lab has steadily built over the past five years,” Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan said. “His expertise in this area is outstanding and will be highly valuable as we continue removing waste and cleaning up contamination left over from past activities in Los Alamos.”

    Mousseau succeeds Michael Graham, who left the laboratory in August to oversee commercial and government environmental management work for Bechtel National, Inc.

    Mousseau has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of nuclear waste management, including 20 years at U.S. Department of Energy sites in Idaho and New Mexico.

  • Petition for workers OK'd

    A federal advisory panel has approved a petition that would pave the way for hundreds of sick Los Alamos workers to get compensation and health care.

    U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health approved the petition Tuesday granting what is called “Special Exposure Cohort” status to all LANL workers who developed radiation-related cancers as a result of working at the lab between January 1976 and December 1995.

    SEC status eliminates the need for claimants to undergo the often arduous dose reconstruction process in which the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determines if a cancer is work-related.  This week’s decision has the potential to benefit hundreds of LANL claimants.

    A previous petition covering workers from March 1943 to December 1975 was approved in May of 2007.

    If approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Congress, workers who qualify will receive a lump sum payment of $150,000 and health care coverage to treat their illnesses.

    In welcoming the advisory decision Udall credited LANL Security Guard Andrew Evaskovich for submitting the petition and advocating for former and current LANL workers.

  • Panel approves petition for sick Los Alamos workers

    LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — A federal advisory panel has approved a petition that would pave the way for hundreds of sick Los Alamos workers to get compensation and health care.

    U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health approved the petition Tuesday granting what is called "Special Exposure Cohort" status to all LANL workers who developed radiation-related cancers while working at the lab between January 1976 and December 1995.

    A previous petition covering workers from March 1943 to December 1975 was approved in May of 2007.

    If approved by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Congress, workers who qualify will receive a lump sum payment of $150,000 and health care coverage to treat their illnesses.

  • LANL cleanup database upgrade complete

    State environmental officials say they have finished their upgrade to a database that gives the public access to information on clean-up efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    New Mexico Environment Department Secretary David Martin says the new centralized, cloud-based database application called Intellus New Mexico provides the public with greater transparency and more timely access to the environmental data for tracking efforts to clean up toxic waste around the laboratory where the nuclear bomb was developed.
    Officials say validated and verified data will be consistently formatted and automatically updated to the new system every night.
    The database can be accessed at intellusnmdata.com.
    Also, existing permits that govern the storage and treatment of hazardous and mixed waste at Sandia National Laboratories would be combined under a new permit drafted by state environment officials.
    The New Mexico Environment Department will be seeking public comments on the proposal through Nov. 16.
    The proposed permit would allow for the management of hazardous and mixed waste at eight container storage units and one area where explosive wastes could be burned.

  • State improves access to Los Alamos data

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State environmental officials say they have finished their upgrade to a database that gives the public access to information on clean-up efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    New Mexico Environment Department Secretary David Martin says the new centralized, cloud-based database application called Intellus New Mexico provides the public with greater transparency and more timely access to the environmental data for tracking efforts to clean up toxic waste around the laboratory where the nuclear bomb was developed.

    Officials say validated and verified data will be consistently formatted and automatically updated to the new system every night.

    The database can be accessed here.

  • LA researcher named ACS Fellow

    Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Kristin Omberg was named as an American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellow for her contributions to national security as a “technical leader in detecting and mitigating biological threats” and to the ACS community.

    Omberg is the acting division leader of the Decision Applications Division and the laboratory’s project leader for the Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch Program. BioWatch is a detection system that monitors for potential airborne bioterror attacks.

    Her BioWatch team in the Decision Applications Division provides support for test evaluation, field sampling, event reconstruction and sample management system software. She also has been the principal investigator for research tracking biological agents in the environment.

    Omberg holds a doctorate in chemistry and a doctoral certificate in public policy analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She began her career at LANL in 1995 as a graduate student in the Chemical Science and Technology Division and then became a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Materials Science and Technology Division in 1999. She moved to the Decision Applications Division in 2001.

  • Los Alamos provides HOPE for radiation belt storm probes

    Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise in radiation detection and shielding is poised to help a national team of scientists better understand a mysterious region that can create hazardous space weather near our home planet.

    The Helium Oxygen Proton Electron analyzer is one of a suite of instruments that was successfully launched Thursday as part of the Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission — an effort by NASA and the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory to gain insight into the sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying the planet’s radiation belt.

    The radiation belt — also known as the Van Allen belt in honor of its discoverer, James Van Allen — is a donut-shaped soup of charged particles that surrounds Earth and occupies the inner region of our planet’s magnetosphere.

    The outer region of the belt is comprised of extremely high-energy electrons, a shower of tiny, negatively charged bullets if you will, that can easily pierce the skin of spacecraft and knock out their electrical components.
    Because of these hazards, spacecraft routinely avoid the region.

  • Physicist honored by American Physical Society

    Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist George Kyrala, along with researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is among a team honored with the American Physical Society’s 2012 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. The team is being recognized for its work on a far-reaching discovery about laser-matter interaction, which has important implications for LLNL’s National Ignition Facility.

    The award is for “predicting and demonstrating the technique of laser scatter on self-generated plasma-optics gratings that enables generation and redirection of high-energy laser beams important for indirect drive inertial confinement fusion and high-power laser-matter interactions.”

    The research has roots in discoveries from the late 1990s, when physicists noted that laser beams crossing each other’s paths in plasma could exchange energy.

    This could potentially degrade the implosion symmetry of targets, a crucial requirement for fusion ignition. This is one of many phenomena known as laser-plasma interaction, in which the plasma created by a laser can interfere with the beam.