SOLYMONE BLOG

US NUCLEAR LAB UNDER THREAT IN NEW MEXICO


LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico - The fire's leading edge burned to within a few miles of a dump site where some 20,000 barrels of plutonium-contaminated waste, including clothing and equipment, is stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, fire officials said.
Officials for the government-run lab said the stored waste is considered low-level radioactive material and remains a safe distance from the fire in an area cleared of trees and other vegetation.
  • New Mexico fire managers scrambled on Tuesday to reinforce crews battling an out-of-control blaze for the third day at the edge of one of the top US nuclear weapons production centres.Carl Beard, director of operations for the lab, said there has been no release of radioactive or hazardous materials into the environment and there was no immediate threat to public safety.
  • Established during the Second World War as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb, the lab remains one of the leading nuclear arms manufacturing facilities in the US.Authorities have suspended routine removal of waste drums for shipment to a permanent underground disposal site in southern New Mexico, said Los Alamos County Fire Chief Douglas Tucker.
  • The fire, believed to have been ignited on Sunday by a fallen power line, has consumed nearly 25,000 hectares of thick pine woodlands in the Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds the lab complex and adjacent town of Los Alamos on three sides.
  • Tucker said he feared the so-called Las Conchas Fire, whipped by high, rapidly shifting winds, could soon double or triple in size. The blaze remained listed as at zero per cent containment and burning largely unchecked in its third day.
A small offshoot of the blaze jumped onto the lab grounds on Monday, burning about 0.4 hectare of property before it was extinguished about two hours later. More than 300 firefighters, backed by several helicopters dropping water, battled the blaze as fire managers hurried to bring in extra ground crews.
Source: Agency
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