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June 2012

Six people digging

A multi-federal agency effort is now underway to build a permanent Interagency Fire Center in the heart of northern New Mexico’s fire country as the one-year anniversary of New Mexico’s second largest wildfire on record approaches. 

Building upon the success of last year’s multi-agency coordination during the Las Conchas fire, NNSA, Bandelier National Monument and Santa Fe National Forest have again partnered to enhance northern New Mexico fire protection efforts by building a 6,400 square foot facility to serve as a joint coordination and response center for fire events. The new building will cost more than $3 million, and will significantly enhance the current fire-fighting capacities of all the agencies.

Kevin Smith, site office manager for the NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office said having a permanent facility dedicated to fighting wildland fires is a huge asset for the entire region, where response time matters.

The site where the new building is planned currently houses the Interagency Fire Center (TA 49) at LANL. The facility near Bandelier National Monument accommodates up to three helicopters and other equipment used for firefighting activities.

The new single-story multipurpose facility will include space for offices, training and conference rooms, and for storage of fire protection/suppression equipment. The new facility is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) criteria. The LEED design standard reduces energy and water needs, which are important resource considerations for northern New Mexico.

 1000th TRU Waste Shipment

Los Alamos National Laboratory yesterday celebrated the 1000th shipment of transuranic waste from the Laboratory to a permanent repository at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

Since October 2011 (the beginning of the current federal fiscal year), LANL has sent 147 shipments to WIPP. LANL began shipping transuranic waste to WIPP in 1999, and reached the 1000th shipment milestone on June 6, 2012. LANL has sent record breaking numbers of shipments to WIPP each of the past three years and is on track to further surpass its record in 2012.

Although the TRU waste is stored safely, a decision was made by the Department of Energy, the New Mexico Environment Department and the Laboratory to accelerate the disposal of the 3,706 cubic meters of TRU waste stored above ground at Area G. The new deadline for disposal of this waste is June 30, 2014.

TRU waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material, mostly plutonium. Transuranic elements such as plutonium have an atomic number greater than uranium, so they are labeled transuranic, for “beyond uranium” on the periodic table of elements.

Click here to read more.

About the photo:

LANL’s 1000th shipment of transuranic waste leaves the laboratory on its way to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has now de-inventoried 97 percent of special nuclear material requiring the highest level of security protection.

The removal is part of NNSA's efforts to consolidate Category I and II special nuclear material, requiring the highest level of security by Oct. 1, 2012. This initiative will further improve security and reduce costs as part of NNSA's overall effort to transform the Cold War era nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise. 

All shipments have been completed in full compliance with safety and environmental laws and procedures.  All federal and receiver site requirements were met for these shipments. The de-inventory project was initiated in October 2006.

NNSA had originally planned to remove high-security material from Livermore by 2014. However, NNSA developed an accelerated timeline to remove the material safely by Oct.1, 2012.

Container

NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) was recently commended by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) for its efforts to find solutions to the issue of disused and unwanted radioactive sealed sources. Specifically, Abby Cuthbertson of GTRI was recognized for the work she has done, along with the Utah Division of Radiation Control and EnergySolutions, to develop a pathway for secure disposition of certain Class A sealed sources at the Clive low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Tooele County, Utah.

At the spring meeting of the LLW Forum, a resolution was passed that acknowledged the benefits of sealed sources to society as a whole, the significant national security threat posed by disused sources, and the importance of developing disposal options as a permanent solution to the associated threat. The resolution also expresses appreciation for the coordination and cooperation by GTRI, the State of Utah, and EnergySolutions towards meeting that challenge and contributing to our national security.

For more information on GTRI’s efforts to secure radiological sources, click here.

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