Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comments About the Los Alamos Fire

Los Alamos is on the map once again because of two main factors. The first is because of the Las Conchas wildfire that has been inching closer to the labs everyday. The second factor is because everyone knows what the labs there do and this is even bigger because of the Japanese nuclear reactor failure after the earthquake and tsunami. Now the news is trying to fear monger and make the nation aware that this could be the great US nuclear failure.
Well if you came here searching Los Alamos fire, Las Conchas Fire, New Mexican forest fires, LANL labs fire, or anything that has the search term fire and something NM related you are in for a rude awakening. The labs aren't going to burn down and there is not going to be a US nuclear disaster right now.

(Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of the contents and practices of Los Alamos National Lab, but I am speaking on behalf of logic and my experience of safety procedures as a scientist). Regardless of what we know goes on up there, or what we think we know, whatever nuclear material is stored up there is underground in hardened facilities to protect the said material from disasters of both a natural and man-made origin. There is no way that if the fire burned the facility there would be a leak of reactor proportions.

Not only that but, in light of the Japan situation, there is no way the US government would allow a disaster of that proportion to happen on American soil this near in time to the Japanese situation. Within 24 hours of the initial reports, the governor of NM called in the NM National Guard to immediately provide support. If the fire were in real danger of consuming the lab, federal support would begin IMMEDIATELY. There would be no wait.

Don't pay attention to the headlines of reports. They all say the same thing, which is something along the lines of "Fire races toward national nuclear lab." If you read the articles themselves they will mention that the labs are near the fire, that the fire has burned a lot, and that the town of Los Alamos has been evacuated. They may or may not mention that the line of contact is at the labs, meaning those fighting the fires are focusing their efforts on protecting the labs and the town.

As I last heard it, the fire was 15% contained and that was last night. Today more support is expected and conditions can only improve. So stay calm, relax, and use your heads. Don't just read the headlines of print or CNN. They are designed to peak your interest in the story, not to be the base of the story itself.

With that said there are a lot of people displaced because of the fire and they need support. Here's how you can help:
  • visit http://www.rrfb.org/ and donate money, food, or personal care items

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