Jul 21 2011

Seismic Hazard Underestimated at Los Alamos Nuclear Lab

Feature Stories | Published 21 Jul 2011, 10:21 am | Comments Off on Seismic Hazard Underestimated at Los Alamos Nuclear Lab -

Print this Page Print this Page |

fault linesNew Mexico nuclear watchdogs are sounding the alarm over a proposed $6 billion, four-floor, super-WalMart sized building on the grounds of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Six metric tons – that’s 13,228 pounds – of plutonium would be stored at the new facility, which would also serve as a manufacturing plant to produce plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons. The project is a key part of a $180 billion federal plan to modernize aging U.S. nuclear infrastructure. The Department of Energy recently released a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed facility, giving a green light to the project, slated for completion in 2023. However a vigilant Geologist and former Los Alamos Laboratory scientist calls the draft report “incomplete”, “inadequate” and says it “underestimates the seismic hazard” at the site. California is famous for its earthquakes, but many Western states sit on unpredictable fault lines, New Mexico included. Through independent analysis of the site, Geologist Robert Gilkenson finds multiple errors with the Department of Energy draft report that could prove disastrous should a major earthquake shake Los Alamos. Among other problems, Gilkenson says the design plans for the new building anticipate a lower level magnitude quake than could hit, and necessary field investigations to determine fault location, and fault geometry, have not been completed. If such a facility were built and then rocked by an earthquake, the resulting accident could rival the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

GUEST: Robert Gilkenson, a registered geologist and technical expert across earth science disciplines. He is also a a former contracted Los Alamos scientist turned independent watchdog and analyst of issues at the site; Joni Arends, executive director of the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Find out more through the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Comments Off on Seismic Hazard Underestimated at Los Alamos Nuclear Lab

Comments are closed at this time.