Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • NMED takes action on WIPP

    The New Mexico Environment Department took final administrative action on a Class 2 permit modification request to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Hazardous Waste Facility Permit Wednesday.
    NMED has approved the modification with changes regarding the mandatory testing of all mixed waste containers. This permit modification is not related to the recent news regarding an anticipated permit modification request for the Hanford tank waste.
    The Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (the permittees) submitted a Class 2 PMR to the NMED on Dec. 12, seeking to revise the waste analysis plan waste characterization methods.
    NMED did a review of the proposed changes on waste analysis plan waste characterization methods. This included the review of comments submitted during a 60-day public comment period, which began Dec. 19 and ended Feb. 18.

    From a press release 

  • Exercise planned Thursday at LANL

    Los Alamos National Laboratory will conduct an emergency-preparedness exercise Thursday. It is only an exercise. The lab routinely conducts emergency exercises to test the preparedness of emergency response and other LANL personnel who would respond to an actual emergency.
    The majority of the exercise is on LANL property and shouldn’t affect the public. Signs will be placed outside the Los Alamos Medical Center alerting the public that an exercise is under way. LANL employees in affected facilities will be notified before the exercise begins and when it is completed. Los Alamos County also has been notified of the emergency exercise.
    For more information, call Steve Sandoval at 665-9206.

  • Physicists say they have found a Higgs boson

    The search is all but over for a subatomic particle that is a crucial building block of the universe.

    Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

    The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. The particle was named for Peter Higgs, one of the physicists who proposed its existence, but it later became popularly known as the “God particle.”

    One Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist could not have been happier.

    Michael Graesser has done extensive research on the Higgs boson particle and gave a series of lecture on the topic late last year.

    Back in October, Graesser said, “A new particle was discovered last summer at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. The Higgs boson gives mass to quarks and the electron but we don’t know yet if this new particle is the Higgs boson.”

    But now, the rest of the science world knows the new particle is the Higgs boson.

  • Manhattan Project bill gets another shot

     Congress is once again looking at the possibility of establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. 

    On March 7, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced the legislation, S. 507, which would create a national park with units in Los Alamos,  Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Hanford, Wash. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) co-sponsored the bill.

    “As Americans, we have a special obligation to preserve and protect our heritage, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will ensure that all Americans learn about the significance of the Manhattan Project and how it continues to shape our history,” said Senator Alexander. 

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, pledged to support the park during a visit to the Hanford B Reactor.

  • DOE letter raises questions

    The Department of Energy’s Daniel Poneman recently sent Gov. Susana Martinez a letter regarding how the state would be affected by the sequestration order.

    Was it just a bunch of hype? Or are their dire consequences ahead?

    It’s hard to tell.

    Poneman estimated that reductions to contractors are estimated at $67 million and contractors may be forced to furlough or lay off more than 8,200 employees in New Mexico.

    As far as Los Alamos National Laboratory is concerned, Poneman wrote that DOE would decrease funding to the lab by approximately $61 million. He also said that could result in the furlough or layoffs of another 8,200 employees.

    Poneman also said there would be decreased funding to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, which would decrease the number of radioactive waste shipments.

    The Governor’s office, meanwhile, responded to the DOE letter Saturday.

    “Governor (Susana) Martinez believes we, as New Mexicans, must put aside partisan differences and fight to protect ourselves from indiscriminate federal cuts,” the statement said.

  • Lab promotes Sarrao

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has named John Sarrao as the new Associate Director for Theory, Simulation and Computation. Sarrao joined the laboratory in 1997 as a technical staff member in experimental condensed matter physics.
    He has held a variety of management positions including Materials Physics and Applications division leader. His most current position was LANL’s DOE Office of Science program director and director of the Material Radiation Interactions in Extremes (MaRIE) program.
    The ADTSC is part of the Principal Associate Director for Science, Technology and Engineering organization at Los Alamos. Sarrao will have responsibility for the Advanced Computing Solutions office and Computer, Computational and Statistical Sciences, High Performance Computing and Theoretical divisions.
    “John is a world-class scientist with a distinguished record of discoveries and international recognition,” said Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. “His track record as a research scientist and his experience leading and managing a large, complex multi-disciplinary technical organization give me full confidence in his abilities.”

  • Lab adds another facility to process nuclear waste

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has brought a third waste repackaging facility online to increase its capability to process nuclear waste for permanent disposal.

    The “375 box line facility” enables Los Alamos to repackage transuranic waste stored in large boxes.

    Built inside a dome once used to house containers of waste at the laboratory, the facility is the largest Perma-Con structure ever constructed. A Perma-Con is a modular structure typically used for radiological or hazardous containment.

    Contaminated items such as equipment and protective clothing, used during past operations at Los Alamos, are removed from their containers inside the structure and then are repackaged for shipment to licensed, permanent disposal facilities.

    The record-setting structure is 110-feet long by 48-feet wide.

    “We needed to build a structure big enough to accommodate these waste boxes, some of which are 40 feet long,” said Jeff Mousseau, associate director of environmental programs at LANL. “These are the largest, most contaminated boxes of waste at Los Alamos, and this facility will give us the capability to repackage them safely.”

    The Perma-Con structure was provided by Radiation Protection Systems, Inc.

  • Manhattan Project agent Safferstein dies at age 92

    NEW YORK (AP) — Nathan Safferstein was barely 21 when circumstances suddenly propelled him from his job as a supermarket manager into the stealth world of a counterintelligence agent on the project that produced the atomic bomb.

    A customer at the Connecticut market had told her brother — an Army intelligence commander — about a bright young prospect. Soon, paperwork was filled out, recommendations made.

    Wartime security being paramount, Safferstein eavesdropped on phone calls of scientists and engineers in Los Alamos to make sure no Manhattan Project secrets were leaked, and delivered bomb-making uranium and top-secret messages.

    He also scrawled his signature on the first A-bomb, called “Little Boy,” dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. A second bomb leveled Nagasaki on Aug. 9, and Japan surrendered six days later.

    Safferstein died Tuesday night at his home in the Bronx after a long illness, his family said. He was 92.

  • LANL rolls out strategy for environmental sustainability

    The Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory have rolled out a long-term strategy for environmental stewardship and sustainability that provides a blueprint for safeguarding the environment while accomplishing the laboratory’s national security missions.

    “This plan represents a significant amount of effort on the part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office to set the standard for Environmental Stewardship in New Mexico,” said Juan Griego, acting manager of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office. “It is intended to ensure that all actions undertaken by our office to support the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mission have first taken environmental protection and stewardship into full consideration.”

    The Long-Term Strategy for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability document presents the long-term environmental goals for the laboratory and gives managers a range of decision support tools to help them conduct their work in a way that protects the environment.

  • LANS fund boosts businesses

    Six Native American businesses received grants through a new Native American Venture Acceleration Fund created by Los Alamos National Security, LLC and the Regional Development Corporation.
    The grants are designed to help the recipients create jobs, increase their revenue base and help diversify the area economy.
    Funding comes from LANS, which manages Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department. The Native American Venture Acceleration Fund is managed by the Regional Development Corporation.
    Grant recipients are:
     • San Ildefonso Development Corporation, $20,500, for upgrades to existing account software and training.
     • Three Eagles Development Corporation, Picuris Pueblo, $10,800, update computer and accounting systems, software and hardware.
     • Cochiti Pueblo Development Corporation, $20,000, restructuring of the corporation to include establishing an environmental services firm.
     • Avanyu Construction Services, LLC, San Ildefonso and Ohkay Owingeh pueblos, $25,000, new accounting software to fulfill federal contracting requirements and begin 8A (small disadvantaged business) certification process.
     • Sunbeam Indian Art, San Ildefonso Pueblo, $3,400, develop website capabilities to increase online sales.