Crews respond to water leak at LANL's CMR

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By The Staff

Emergency crews and the lab security force responded to a call at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Chemistry and Metallurgy Research building Wednesday.
According to a lab spokesman, there was a report of a leaking pipe at the CMR facility, located at Technical Area 3.
The spokesman later said there was a fire suppression leak from a faulty sprinkler head.
“Major clean-up done and fire suppression system back on line yesterday evening,” a statement from the lab.
The spokesman added, “there was no contamination in the water, which is removed by the building’s drainage system.”
According to the lab website, the CMR facility totals 550,000 square feet, including an administrative wing, an office wing, six laboratory wings, and one area that includes hot cells that provide heavy shielding and remote-handling capabilities for work on highly radioactive materials. Three laboratory wings are in various stages of shutdown.
The website says the CMR boasts a full capability for analytical chemistry and metallurgical studies on small samples of nuclear materials in support of national security programs, including support of plutonium pit manufacturing and surveillance programs. Analyses performed at the CMR on plutonium samples are critical to the national security goal of assuring that plutonium specifications are met for pit production and testing.
The CMR houses key capabilities for analytical chemistry, uranium processing, destructive and non-destructive analysis of nuclear materials, and actinide research, processing, and metallography.
The first CMR facility was completed in 1952, the first LANL CMR facility was completed. At that time, the CMR was one of the world’s first research and experimental facilities for analytical actinide chemistry and metallurgy. Upgrades to the original CMR were completed in 2002.
There were plans to close the CMR facility by 2010. With the CMR facility aging, LANL began the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project. Estimated construction completion was for 2012, but because of cost overruns and a lack of funding, the project was deferred for five years by the National Nuclear Security Administration. The lab and NNSA are currently trying to develop alternative plutonium strategies.