Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory Threatened by Wildfire


June 30, 2011

Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory Threatened by Wildfire

The Las Conchas wildfire, has forced the evacuation of the entire population of Los Alamos and the closure of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The fire has reached within a road of the outer perimeter of the lab on its south-western and western sides. An acre of vacant land on the south-western border of the lab experienced a spot fire, though that was quickly brought under control.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, is one of the nation’s top national security research facilities where many hazardous and radioactive materials are housed.
“As a precaution, the Lab has cut natural gas to technical areas in LANL’s remote southwest area. All hazardous and radioactive materials remain accounted for and are appropriately protected, as are key Lab facilities such as its proton accelerator and supercomputing centers,” a statement from the lab said.
In May 2000 the Cerro Grande wildfire, burned more than 48,000 acres, (190 square Km) and caused more than $1 billion in property damage. About 400 homes and 100 buildings on lab property were destroyed in that fire. The Las Conchas fire has raised concerns about toxic runoff and radioactive smoke, although lab spokesman Kevin Roark said no contaminants were released in the Cerro Grande wildfire.
“There are fire mitigations at all of our nuclear facilities, and I am confident in our ability to protect all of them. This is a strong team protecting a national treasure”, said the laboratory’s director, Charles McMillan.
The Lab’s Emergency Operations Center remains operational and observation aircraft refered to as “flying laboratories” have been deployed to sample the air for chemicals and radiological materials.
The Las Conchas wildfire has grown to more than 103,800 acres (420 square Km.), (according to the Associated Press), making it the largest forest fire in New Mexico history.

Publisher: Salient News