Safety Upgrade Urged for New Mexico Nuclear Lab

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) — Federal safety experts are urging immediate action to protect New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in the event of a massive earthquake.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board says major deficiencies in the lab’s safety planning has left it vulnerable to releasing deadly radioactive material if an earthquake triggered a fire, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The laboratory is the country’s primary plutonium fabrication facility for nuclear weapons and is believed to house thousands of pounds of plutonium.

In a report sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the safety experts said Tuesday a previously known fault has the potential to cause greater ground movement than they had calculated.

They say in a worst-case scenario, a quake could trigger a fire by toppling equipment that contains plutonium-melting furnaces.

A spokesman for the Energy Department says the board’s recommendations are being evaluated.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Energy, Energy & Fuels, Nuclear
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