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Chaotic situation at Los Alamos National Laboratory -secrecy about plutonium danger

Birthplace of the atomic bomb in chaos as National Nuclear Security Administration calls for help

IT’S known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb. But a letter written to the bomb’s laboratory has us all extremely concerned.   Matt Young@MattYoung, IN 2011 something alarming happened at a United States nuclear weapons laboratory that was deliberately kept quiet.

According to The Centre for Public Integrity, a pair of workers with “cavalier attitudes” at the Los Alamos National Laboratory stuffed “so much plutonium into a small space that they came close to triggering an accidental nuclear chain reaction, all to get some photos”.

Their actions “nearly doomed a room full of colleagues”, according to a CPI report.

Plutonium is the unstable, radioactive, man-made fuel of a nuclear explosion, and it isn’t amenable to showboating,” it said. “When too much is put in one place, it becomes ‘critical’ and begins to fission uncontrollably, spontaneously sparking a nuclear chain reaction, which releases energy and generates a deadly burst of radiation.”

And it gets much, much worse.

Los Alamos National Laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico — responsible for the design of nuclear warheads — was a top secret facility during World War II and the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

But it is in a state of chaos — in fact, it has been for years.

A damning letter by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, released this week and seen by, said it had found “numerous weaknesses” in the lab’s safety standards dating back to 2014.

It had also failed recent safety tests indicating how it would respond to an emergency including radioactive leaks or earthquakes.

Referred as Project Y after it was established in 1943, the laboratory was one of a series of top secret labs in the United States given codewords to maintain secrecy at the time.

It was known as the “heart” of the nuclear project and was primarily responsible for the Manhattan Project, which developed the first ever nuclear weapons. The scientists within its labs were responsible for the creation of several atomic bombs, including the Fat Man, which was detonated in the Japanese city of Nagasaki in August, 1945.

It is also responsible for the hydrogen bomb.

Since the end of WWII, the lab continued its focus on bomb designs. It is still open today and is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world with a focus on national security, space exploration and nuclear fusion, among other “non-war” technology.

Though the world is rapidly changing, this essential responsibility (nuclear) remains the core mission,” it states on its website.

It is also “responsible for the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear explosive packages in the stockpile”.

But over the years, more and more mistakes have begun to leak from its labs, with critical, radioactive material breached, dumped and mishandled.

Last week, the US Department of Energy, which is responsible overseeing the United States’ nuclear arsenal, put out a final request for proposals to manage the site.

Currently, the lab is operated by a private consortium known as Los Alamos Security LLC but the National Nuclear Security Administration announced it would not renew the more than $2 billion annual contract in 2015, citing “subpar performance and safety and security reviews under the group’s leadership”.


November 2, 2017 - Posted by | safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war

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