Thursday, November 17, 2005

Panel fears Los Alamos Lab pits’ radioactive waste could seep into water

By Andy Lenderman The New Mexican |
November 17, 2005

A citizen advisory board is demanding more information about unlined radioactive-waste pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where officials have agreed to further study the matter.

At issue is whether a low-level waste dump, known as Area G, could potentially contaminate groundwater.

The Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board — a 21-member body sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy — has recommended the lab not expand Area G, stop burying radioactive waste underground and find ways to not produce it in the first place.


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You know, if LANL is going to continue to be a "bad neighbor" when it comes to the wishes of the surrounding communities, I am going to be forced to reevaluate if I want to continue to work here. Recent decisions and apparent decisions regarding LANL's operations (I refer now to nuclear waste dumps and pit production) are not ones that I support. Further, they cause me to begin to think for the very first time that perhaps it would be better for all involved if LANL were just shut down.

This new uncertainty of mine about the quality of life provided by LANL and Los Alamos is in addition to those caused by the pending contract change over. I came to LANL for the science. I do not feel that these latest two initiatives are in LANL's best interest, at least not from a science perspective.
cs101, I would have thought reevalution a continual process?
It obviously should have been a continuous process, but it wasn't. I was pretty fat, dumb and happy until George P. Nanos came along. That was when I started to do some serious re-eval. Now that my eyes are open again, I see this push to make the lab into something I don't like. I doubt I'll be around much longer if it begins to look more like the "Pit Whores" and "nuclear dump" people are going get their way.
To ComputerScience101: You sound surprised that there are pits being manufactured and that nuclear waste is being produced.

Didn't you know that LANL was a nuclear weapons laboratory when you joined up? Making pits is part of that.
No, dhartman, I am not surprised at either of the two facts. However, and pay attention carefully, because this next bit is important:

The difference between a "research" level of pit production (12 - 20 pits per year) and production level pit manufacturing (300 - 400 pits per year) is enormous.

The differences are enormous in the amount of money involved, in the number of people involved, the amount of nuke waste produced. An investment in production-level pit manufacturing would by definition change the nature of Los Alamos National Laboratory. It would shift the focus away from science here. Perhaps that would be a good thing from the perspective of people like you and "Pit Whore", but not from mine.

There, is that more clear to you?
Well, yes. But an additional difference is that (pay attention carefully, because this next bit is important):

There is ZERO political will in the US to build pits at a rate of 300-400 per year, in Los Alamos or anywhere else. Witness the Congressional opposition to MPF, from both sides of the aisle. Even if there was a need, TA-55 simply does not have the square footage for that scale of production, even theoretically. A new production facility would be required, and that would take AT LEAST 15 years to complete.

You're invoking a slippery slope for LANL that does not exist.
Anyone know what the projected production rate (or quantity) of the RRW series is? I understand that there are eventually to be 4 types of RRWs in the series.
So Computerscience101.. is it just that you don't want to see LANL science destroyed by the reallocation of the resources required for pit production or is it that you do not support the premise that someone needs to be able to do pit production, anytime, anywhere?

LANL serves at the will of the NNSA. They set the mission and control the NW budget. LANL and LLNL exist because US policy says that they are needed.

If you are bothered by being involved in nuclear weapons work, even peripheraly, then maybe leaving is a good choice.
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