Auditors Want Plutonium Lab Quake-Proofed

Every so often, give or take a thousand years, a major earthquake strikes the Los Alamos, New Mexico area. The next one could be catastrophic according to a study by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

In an article on the Los Angeles Times website, Ralph Vartabedian cites the report as saying a major earthquake could cause the 30-year-old plutonium complex in the Los Alamos National Laboratory to topple plutonium-handling equipment and possibly start a fire. Air filtering systems could also be crippled by the quake, causing a plutonium leak at levels at least 100 times greater than considered safe.

The complex, owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration, is used for both plutonium-related research and manufacturing nuclear weapon components. The safety board recommends that the Administration take immediate steps to reduce the risk.

To read the Los Angeles Times article, please click here:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-plutonium-los-alamos28-2009oct28,0,6966430.story