LANL boss set to retire

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Anastasio hopes LANS search committee will have replacement by June 1

If Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Mike Anastasio had his way, Wednesday would be his final leadership breakfast as director.

And the heavy hitters were in town to celebrate the occasion. Gov. Susana Martinez made her second trip to Los Alamos since being elected. And National Nuclear Security Administration’s director Thomas D’Agostino made the trip from Washington.

A couple of months ago, Anastasio announced he was going to retire in June.

On Wednesday, he said that was still his goal.

“It depends on my board (LANS, LLC) to find a replacement and I am rooting hard for them to stay on schedule so I can stay on mine,” Anastasio said. “In the next couple of weeks, they are interviewing the last batch of candidates.”

Anastasio said whoever replaces him must have one important quality.

“They have to know how important the community is to the lab.”

The outgoing director also said he would stay on if LANS LLC had not settled on a replacement.

Anastasio then gave what he hopes to be his final status of the lab update.

He said the lab has come along way since he took over as director in 2006. He cited the progress made in security, investments in infrastructure, progress in environmental cleanup, two world-class computers and “we have worked in our relationship with you.”

Anastasio then addressed the seismic earthquake hazards in northern New Mexico.

The laboratory recently released the results of a seismic analysis done in 2007 that showed “that a large earthquake that might occur in north-central New Mexico every 2,500 years could cause significant damage to some parts of the facility.”

“I believe the hazards are a bit more significant that they were 10 years ago. We have turned to our engineering analysts and they are giving us a detailed analysis of what the problems are. We are taking action on this. The number one goal is to protect the workforce and protect the community. We are taking this very seriously.

“We are taking long term and short term actions. We need to fix and strengthen the facilities so we are not vulnerable.”

When D’Agostino was introduced, the NNSA head cracked, “I am here from Washington and I am here to help.”

D’Agostino had this to say about where the lab stands now.

“We have take this lab out from the past,” he said. “This is no longer a Cold War enterprise. The lab needs the infrastructure to attract the best scientists and engineers to get the job done. There is a real commitment on part of the administration to change the nuclear complex to a 21st century enterprise.”

D’Agostino said the lab has a bright future “and a lot of the credit goes to Mike Anastasio.”
Anastasio then was given a standing ovation.

Near the end of the presentation, D’Agostino was asked his thoughts of the way the lab was being run.

The Department of Energy and the NNSA took over control of LANL in June 2006 after the University of California had run the labs for years.

“It’s a good question,” D’Agostino said. “The National Academies of Science is looking into it and we don’t have the results of their study yet.”

In fact, D’Agostino said he expects it take another year to get results from the study.

The study committee was in Los Alamos a couple of weeks ago to hear testimony from lab management and employees.

The final comment of the day regarded the recent passing of state Rep. Jeannette Wallace.

Anastasio summed it up by saying. “She is missed every day … here at the lab and the community.”