Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • LANL boosts light-water reactor research

    Hard on the heels of a five-year funding renewal, modeling and simulation (M&S) technology developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of the Consortium for the Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) will now be deployed to industry and academia under a new inter-institutional agreement for intellectual property.
    “This agreement streamlines access to the reactor simulation research tools,” said Kathleen McDonald, software business development executive for LANL, “and with a single contact through UT-Battelle, we have a more transparent release process, the culmination of a lengthy effort on the part of all the code authors,” she said.
    CASL is a US Department of Energy “Energy Innovation Hub” established in 2010 to develop advanced M&S capabilities that serve as a virtual version of existing, operating nuclear reactors. As announced by DOE in January, the hub would receive up to $121.5 million over five years, subject to congressional appropriations.
    Over the next five years, CASL researchers will focus on extending the M&S technology built during its first phase to include additional nuclear reactor designs, including boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactor-based small modular reactors.

  • Native American businesses receive grants

    Los Alamos National Security announced Tuesday six Native American-owned businesses have been awarded grants through LANS’ Native American Venture Acceleration Fund.
    The grants awarded by LANS totaled $60,000.
    “Our Native American Venture Acceleration Fund has become an important resource in the region for tribally held businesses,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Community Programs Office. “Funds invested into these entrepreneurs helps sustain and grow employment in and around our Northern New Mexico pueblos.”
    Venture Acceleration Fund grants, according to LANS, are designed to help recipients create jobs and ultimately diversify the Northern New Mexico economy.
    The fund is managed by the Regional Development Corporation.
    LANS said more than $200,000 has been generated by the fund.
    In the past two years, nearly $700,000 in new revenue was generated by Native American-owned companies. The newest grant recipients are as follows:

    • Walatowa Timber, Jemez Pueblo: to develop business and manufacturing plans for timber products and expand into the wood pellet industry.

    • High Water Mark, Cochiti Pueblo: to purchase geographic information operating software.

  • LANL scientists named fellows in physics society

    A group of nine Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are new Fellows of the American Physical Society.
    Cristian Batista, Malcolm Boshier, Dana Dattelbaum, Stephen Doorn, Michelle Espy, George Rodriguez, Avadh Saxena, Sergei Tretiak and Lin Yin are the new honorees from LANL.
    “Selection as American Physical Society fellows is de facto proof of the vibrant engagement Los Alamos scientists are having with the larger technical community,” said LANL director Charlie McMillan. “I am proud of the contributions Los Alamos scientists bring to these professional societies through papers, scientific conference attendance, and other professional interactions. Collaboration and the exchange of ideas through affiliations within societies such as APS play an important role in fueling the scientific innovation required to accomplish our national-security mission.”
    APS nominations are evaluated by the Fellowship Committee of the appropriate APS division, topical group or forum, or by the APS General Fellowship committee. After review by the full APS Fellowship Committee, the successful candidates are elected by the APS Council.

  • Subcontractors score a win in D.C.

    Coordinated lobbying by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Major Subcontractors Consortium (LANL MSC), a collaborative of the 35 largest LANL Subcontractors, and the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has achieved a victory for local contractors.
    Pete Maggiore, assistant manager of the Environmental Projects Office at the NNSA Los Alamos Field Office, announced during the Feb. 19 Energy Technology and Environmental Business Association meeting held in Santa Fe that “the DOE EM got the message that the LANS ADEP MTOA contracts will be utilized for environmental cleanup work under the DOE EM Bridge contract with LANS, LLC.”
    The bridge contracts will be in effect for the next 18 to 24 months until a new prime contractor is selected.
    The consortium and the coalition traveled to Washington, D.C. as separate entities the week of Feb. 9 in order to meet with New Mexico’s congressional delegation and Department of Energy leadership.
    The coalition included the subcontractor’s concerns as part of their larger agenda.
    One of the consortium’s two major issues was the environmental clean-up transition from the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) to DOE’s Environmental Management (EM) division following the Feb. 14, 2014 waste release incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project.

  • Coalition returns from trip

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities officials said they felt recent meetings in Washington, D.C. were successful ones.
    A group representing the Coalition in Washington visited the Capitol to meet with the New Mexico Congressional Delegation members, House and Senate Armed Services, Appropriations and Department of Energy officials regarding clean-up issues and funding for Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    One of the Coalition’s aims from its trip was to attempt to bump up the proposed clean-up budget for FY16. The proposal currently is $189, but members would like to see the level at $255 million.
    “Recent news has been about the fines assessed on DOE by the state of New Mexico Environment Department,” said Mayor Alice Lucero of Española, chair of the Regional Coalition. “We of the Coalition support LANL and its clean-up commitments. We believe that payment of fines should not impact the funds for clean-up.”
    The Coalition also met with officials from the New Mexico Environment Department and DOE officials. The Coalition said it value a good relationship and desires to resolve the fines issue.
    Those interested in learning more about what was done at the Washington trip can attend the Coalition’s meeting Friday. The meeting will be from 9-11 a.m. at 1000 Central Ave.

  • Report faults LANL classified officer for release of info

    A recent report from the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General said there were potential problems concerning the lab’s classification program.
    The report, dated Feb. 11, noted that the IG “substantiated certain allegations” regarding Los Alamos National Laboratory’s controlling of sensitive information. The report further went on to say that lack of oversight by management from Los Alamos National Security, the corporation that runs LANL for the DOE, contributed to problems with sensitive information handling.
    Prompting the report by the IG’s office was a complaint alleging “multiple problems” with LANL’s classification department and that senior lab officials hadn’t addressed reported violations by its classification officer.
    Problems cited by the IG’s report included that the classification officer had not always ensured derivative classifiers had up-to-date bulletins, including interpretive guidance, properly classified certain documents or adequately reported security incidents.
    There were six specific instances the report acknowledged.

  • Video: WIPP leak was 1 container

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New video appears to confirm that the radiation leak at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump was limited to a single drum of waste, a U.S. Energy Department official said Thursday.
    Joe Franco, head of the DOE’s Carlsbad field office, said in a conference call with reporters that a final report has yet to be issued on the mishap at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico, but thanks to a special camera boom, investigators were able to get a good look between and across the stacks of waste where the drum ruptured.
    “That allowed them to obtain a full view of visual evidence needed to make that determination,” Franco said.
    Once the investigation into the cause of the leak is complete, the full focus can shift to reopening the facility, he said.
    The repository has been closed since February 2014, when the container of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory ruptured and contaminated 22 workers along with parts of the underground facility. While the DOE is targeting 2016 for some operations to resume, it could take at least another three years and cost more than a half billion dollars to fully reopen the site.

  • Paying It Forward

    Chad Brown, left, and Helen Milenski, each received a $500 scholarship from Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Earth and Environmental Science Division during a presentation Tuesday at the New Mexico Consortium. The scholarships were funded by LANL hydrologist/geochemist Jeri Sullivan Graham of the Chemical Diagnostics and Engineering Group, who funded the scholarships with a 2014 Conservation Grant Award she received from the Climate Change Leadership Institute.

  • State may add to fines

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's top environment officials and the U.S. Energy Department are wrangling over more than $54 million in fines levied in the wake of a radiological leak at the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository.
    Now, state officials are threatening even more fines if the Energy Department doesn't accept responsibility for numerous violations outlined in compliance orders issued by the state last year. The New Mexico Environment Department is working on a new compliance order that could include fines of more than $100 million.
    Because negotiations with the federal government are ongoing, officials said the total penalties that could be assessed remains unclear.
    Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn and other community leaders from New Mexico were in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss cleanup efforts in the wake of last year's mishap at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico. The facility has been closed since February 2014 when a container of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory ruptured, contaminating 22 workers and parts of the underground waste dump.

  • LANL unveils detection expertise

    Having long kept details of its explosives capabilities under wraps, a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists is now rolling out a collaborative project to defeat explosives threats through enhanced detection technologies.
    According to LANL, the team is aiming to create a collaboration of strategic public and private partners focused on the innovations in and education about explosives detection technologies. Through the Los Alamos Collaboration for Explosives Detection (LACED) online portal and related collaborations, the team will be able to provide expertise in some extremely specialized fields.
    The LACED site serves as a virtual gateway to world-class expertise and capabilities designed to counter all types of explosives threats, predominantly through enhanced detection capabilities.
    The site went public online in January and is beginning to attract attention among specialty audiences.
    The explosives detection collaborative is made up of 57 scientific experts, spanning 18 technical divisions at LANL. Ranging across 11 unique fields of expertise, these scientists have published more than 100 explosive-detection-related publications.
    And what, besides making the windows rattle in Los Alamos County, do these experts do?