A New Mexico fire named theLas Conchas fire, began to rage Sunday morning in northern New Mexico and has now spread to within striking distance of a very large nuclear weapons facility, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which occupies 36 square miles of land located just 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe.
From the Los Alamos National Laboratories website:
6/27/2011 8:20 – Los Alamos National Laboratory emergency officials are closely watching wind directions this morning as the Las Conchas fire continues to burn southwest of the Lab… Observation aircraft are currently conducting aerial surveys to gauge the fire’s growth and current size. Overnight, as a precaution, the Lab cut natural gas to technical areas in LANL’s remote southwest area. All hazardous and radioactive materials remain accounted for and are appropriately protected, as are key Lab facilities such as its proton accelerator and supercomputing centers.
6/28/2011 7:32 – Laboratory to remain closed Wednesday, June 29. Only employees on an essential-duties access list will be permitted back onto Laboratory property during the closure, as notified by their line management. All others are urged to remain off-site
LAS CONCHAS FIRE, as it happens!
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LIVE audio feed: Santa Fe County New Mexico
Albuquerque Area Fire, SAR, State Police, Interop, and USFS
Fire Name: Las Conchas
Time/Date Started: 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 26, 2011
Size: (4PM MDT, June 27) 43,597 acres as per infrared data. The fire burned actively all day to the north/northeast. Running, crowning, and spotting up to a half a mile of the head of the fire was observed.
(see updated Las Conchas Fire Perimeter Map below for current size estimate)
Location: Jemez Ranger District, Santa Fe National Forest; approximately 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos off NM 4 at mile marker 35. The fire started on private land.
Evacuations: The city of Los Alamos is under MANDATORY evacuation as of 1:45 pm. White Rock remains under VOLUNTARY evacuation. Cochiti Mesa, Las Conchas, Bandelier National Monument, and campgrounds near the fire were evacuated yesterday
Los Alamos National Labs: The Los Alamos National Laboratory will be closed due to the fire. All laboratory facilities will be closed for all activities, and nonessential employees are directed to remain off site. Employees that are considered nonessential should not report to work unless specifically directed by their line managers. Employees should check local news sources, the LANL Update Hotline (505.667.6622) and the LANL web page www.lanl.gov fo updates. All radioactive and hazardous material is appropriately accounted for and protected. LANL staff is coordinating the on-site response and supporting the county and federal fire response.
The Los Alamos Laboratory is one of the largest science and technology institutions in the world with approximately 9,000 direct employees. Los Alamos is one of two laboratories in the United States where classified work towards the design of nuclear weapons is undertaken.
The Los Alamos National Laboratory currently:
- Conducts research, design, and development of nuclear weapons.
- Provides assessments and certification of stockpiled weapons.
- Maintains production capabilities for limited quantities of plutonium pits for delivery to the stockpile.
- Maintains capabilities for R&D and fabrication of enriched uranium, depleted uranium, and other uranium isotope mixtures for hydrotests and joint test assemblies and fabrication of components for secondary assemblies.
- Manufactures nuclear weapon detonators for the stockpile.
- Conducts tritium R&D.
- Conducts hydrodynamic testing.
- Conducts high explosives R&D.
- Conducts environmental testing.
- Maintains Category I/II quantities of SNM.
- Designs and tests advanced technology concepts.
In 2003 the Department of Energy opened the management contract of Los Alamos up for bid. In June of 2006 management of the Lab was taken over by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a for-profit corporation of partners that include the University of California, Bechtel Corporation, Washington Group International, and BWX Technologies.
Amazing time-lapse video of the Las Conchas Fire, Los Alamos County, June 26
(Yahoo News) “This fire is very complex. We have a national type one team coming in because of the nature of the fire.”
(MSNBC) The fire has burned around 44,000 acres and was threatening buildings, power lines and natural gas lines. The number one priority at the moment is to make sure all the radioactive and hazardous material is protected.
Got your Hazmat suit ready??
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