Halfway there: Lab pays tribute to work done

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By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s new Rad Lab topped out Tuesday at five stories with a traditional ceremony for the workers involved in the project.

“It’s a long-time tradition in the construction industry, when the building reaches its highest point,” said Rick Holmes, the project division leader for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project. “We hung a flag and put up a piñon tree, which means the building was constructed safely and signifies good luck for the occupants.”

Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio and Deputy Director Jan Van Prooyen also offered remarks for the occasion.

Holmes said the ceremony was about the workers whose craft is responsible for the building, primarily steel workers. Also on hand were senior union representatives and steel suppliers and “all the people who touched a project of this type,” he said.

The first and smaller of the two buildings in the CMRR project, the Radiological Laboratory, Utility and Office Building (RLUOB) is now about half finished with facility construction expected to be completed by September 2009.

At that point a two-year period of equipment installation will begin, for glove boxes and a variety of instrumentation to support the building.

The second building is the Nuclear Facility, budgeted at about $2 billion, for which the design phase and equipment planning is proceeding.

The CMRR’s funding has been tugged back and forth between House and Senate appropriators in the last few years. The Senate has supported it while the House has withheld funds.

Without a specific appropriation bill in the last two years, the Senate preference has held sway in the omnibus bills that have provided continuing funding.

The complex is intended to replace the half-century-old Chemistry and Metallurgy Building with some additional capabilities related to the laboratory’s role in manufacturing plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons, also uncertain because of the divided Congress.

Holmes said after the ceremony today that there is enough money to complete construction on the RULAB, but it will need additional funding for the equipment.