Seismic scenarios simulated

-A A +A
By The Staff

Details emerged from a weekly site office report last month about a series of tabletop exercises that dealt with a possible seismic event at Los Alamos.

According to the March 1 report, LANL conducted a series of four tabletop emergency exercises at the emergency operations center to evaluate and pre-plan site actions in response to a significant seismic event at Los Alamos.

Participation from LANL and local, state, and federal agencies included approximately 60 personnel. These personnel represented senior field office and LANL management, Los Alamos Fire and Police Departments, local Tribal Organizations, New Mexico National Guard, New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Los Alamos Medical Center, and others.

The four scenarios presented to the participants included a collapse of the Plutonium Facility following an earthquake, and a progression of three scenarios following a significant earthquake that included a catastrophic failure of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building, followed by the collapse of the WCRR Repacking Facility and finally the structural failure of the Plutonium Facility.

After a description of the scenario and pertinent data, the participants were divided into three groups including: strategic; response; and public information. Each group then developed solutions to three focus areas that included: rescue; communication/notification; and transportation/evacuation.  

A statement from the lab said, “This was a very valuable tabletop exercise that has provided the laboratory, NNSA, and many other state-wide agencies and local governments with some perspective on the potential effects of a large seismic event on the laboratory and the surrounding region.

“The laboratory conducts a variety of emergency drills year round, which range from hundreds of basic fire drills to more challenging scenarios of hazardous material releases and natural phenomena impacts like earthquakes and wildfires. Annually, LANL completes a “Full Scale, Full Participation” exercise, which includes county and state responders, with simulated and challenging incidents requiring actual field response. “