Another Nuclear Disaster threat for the US-Los Alamos fire

It’s time to wake up to the fact that nuclear power has limitations that we have not dealt with as a community that shares the resources of the earth. Fukushima, natural disasters threatening 3 nuclear power reactors in the US, and now the Los Alamos wildfire. There’s a message here.

Updates on the Los Alamos lab fire can be found at this link. (no longer being updated as of 7/1/11). Updates on  New Mexico fires can be found here.

RACER monitoring for radiation around LANL here.

Las Conchas fire inciweb report here.

Dramatic photos of the fires here  and here showing photos of forests burning and aftermath

Los Alamos stores 20,000  PLUTONIUM waste barrels in the equivalent of TENTS!

From Glenn Walp, Los Alamos former top security official speaking of the threat there:

“The Los Alamos facility — the birthplace of the atomic bomb — was shrouded in secrecy long before it was surrounded by smoke after the Las Conchas fire began Sunday.

“It contains approximately 20,000 barrels of nuclear waste,” former top security official Glen Walp, said. “It’s not contained within a concrete, brick and mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume.

“Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas,” he added.

from the abcnews website article by Ryan Owens 6/29/11

Glenn Walp served with the Pennsylvania State Police for nearly 29 years, retiring as commissioner and a member of the governor’s cabinet. Walp has appeared as a guest on multiple national television programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, and CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn. Here is an excerpt from the  book he wrote  about his investigations at Los Alamos. Implosion at Los Alamos

Crime and Cover-Ups

In February 2009, National Nuclear Security Administration officials released more alarming news. The officials sent a letter to Los Alamos Director Michael Anastasio, chastising the Los Alamos laboratory for failure “to conclusively determine control of special nuclear material as there is no reconciliation of the physical inventory that includes calculation and evaluation of the ID (inventory difference).” The officials stated that this failure “exceeded alarm limits,” and the items of the inventory included huge stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium – enough for the making of hundreds of nuclear weapons.

LOTS AND LOTS OF PLUTONIUM in other areas of plant

They stockpile, reprocess, process and collect for disposal huge amounts. It is considered a center of excellence for plutonium research, development and manufacturing. From a Los Alamos nuclear publication website:

“Under NNSA’s proposed preferred alternative, Los Alamos will maintain its role as the center of excellence for nuclear weapons design and engineering, and plutonium research, development, and manufacturing. As the nuclear weapons program becomes smaller as part of the NNSA weapons complex transformation, Los Alamos’ Stockpile Manufacturing and Support (SMS) Directorate must maintain the breadth of capabilities that support stockpile stewardship and nuclear deterrence while also producing innovative discoveries that will lead to new missions in plutonium science and engineering. Plutonium processing will be a key component of the Los Alamos mission for the foreseeable future.

Virtually all plutonium operations at Los Alamos occur within the Plutonium Facility at Technical Area 55. It is the nation’s most modern plutonium facility, consisting of a 75,000-square-foot building that is built to withstand 200-mile-per-hour tornadic winds and any credible seismic event. TA-55, as the facility is commonly called, opened in 1978.

The work at TA-55 supports a wide range of national programs, such as stockpile stewardship, nuclear materials stabilization, materials disposition, nuclear forensics, nuclear counter-terrorism, and nuclear energy. Each of these programs revolves around plutonium. In stockpile stewardship, for example, pure plutonium metal is used to manufacture nuclear-weapon pits or to conduct experiments related to maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. The materials disposition program recovers plutonium from decommissioned weapons and processes it for eventual disposal or for burning as mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.”

quoted from  Actinide Research Quarterly (ARQ),3rd quarter 2008 a publication of the Seaborg Institute for Transactinium Science in the Stockpile Manufacturing and Support (SMS) Directorate.

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