Nov 30, 2008

Is this a precursor to eliminating DARHT?

From a comment on the New LANL Deputy Director post:

I was browsing the job postings this weekend and noticed that HX Division Leader is up for grabs again. Hasn't it just been a couple of months since Kathi Alexander was selected as DL? Now she's out, the Division has been moved into Bret Knapp's Weapons Engineering directorate, and the previous two groups (HX-3 and HX-6) have now morphed into four groups, with a grand total of 60 people in them. (Remember when 60 people was considered a smallish group? Now it's a division!) All four groups have acting GL's in place, presumably pending the selection of the new DL. Knapp's deputy, Craig Leasure, is acting DL.

My question: what the heck is going on over there? Is there a "crisis" that's being managed, or was it just deemed necessary to bolster Knapp's fading Weapons Engineering directorate by transferring HX? Or... since Knapp has been raping and pillaging ADWE so effectively, is this a precursor to eliminating DARHT?

Nov 29, 2008

NMED and NMCF Listening Sessions in Espanola and Albuquerque about Los Alamos National Laboratory Issues

The New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Community Foundation are hosting two “Listening Sessions” to better understand issues and perceptions residents of northern New Mexico have regarding Los Alamos National Laboratory. The intent of the Sessions is to provide a forum for the public to express those perceptions, and for the Department and the Foundation to listen. The conveners expect the conversation to focus on environmental issues pertaining to the Lab. Better understanding of the environmental issues and priorities important to northern New Mexicans and their communities will allow the Department to incorporate these concerns in its decisions about how to handle potential environmental risks posed by LANL. The next two sessions will be held in Española and Albuquerque. Future sessions will be held in Taos and Santa Fe.


WHERE: Northern New Mexico College, Administrative Building, Rooms 101 & 102, Española, NM

WHEN: From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 2, 2008

WHO: New Mexico Environment Department and New Mexico Community Foundation.


WHERE: Loma Linda Community Center, Community Room, located at 1700 Yale SE, Albuquerque, NM

WHEN: From 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 9, 2008

WHO: New Mexico Environment Department and New Mexico Community Foundation.

[Click here to download the NMED press release.]

Mortar shells found in Ancho Canyon

By ROGER SNODGRASS and CAROL A. CLARK, The Los Alamos Monitor

Los Alamos National Laboratory is asking residents to refrain from outdoor activities in the Ancho Canyon area until further notice.

Sunday morning a hiker in Ancho Canyon came across two old mortar shells, picked them up and began carrying them out of the canyon before calling police about 4 p.m. Saturday, Los Alamos Police Lt. Scott Mills said during an interview Tuesday.

Mills is on the county’s bomb squad and investigated the report.

A laboratory spokesman said the ordnance was tested by laboratory specialists Tuesday.

“A hazardous devices team used 6-gram shaped charges to punch holes in the shells and determined they were inert or empty,” said Kevin Roark of the communications office. “No high explosives were involved. Most likely they were practice rounds, containing no high explosives.”

The incident triggered precautionary warnings by both the lab and the police.

“Even to a trained eye, it is difficult to tell if these shells are inert or alive,” Roark said. “So we are reminding residents not to pick these things up if these see them, but to immediately leave the area and inform the LAPD or the laboratory management as soon as they get to a safe distance.”

Asked what was a safe distance, Roark said, “Far away.”

He said a former Marine told him that if anybody were near an 81 mm shell when it goes off, “There wouldn’t be much left of you.”

The finding was a reminder that residents are still coming across old ordnance related to the laboratory.

“According to the serial numbers on the two items, they are from the mid-1950s,” Roark said.

"We can't emphasize enough the importance of not touching these types of items," he said.

Anyone who finds an explosive device should back away and call police immediately, Mills said, and the police will dispatch the bomb squad to the scene.

“While it was ultimately determined that these mortars were practice rounds, there’s always a chance they could have exploded,” Mills said. “They were found in an area where live rounds may have been used. Even highly trained bomb technicians and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians can't determine whether a device is active until they’ve completed their ‘render safe’ procedures.”

Ancho Canyon should be considered off limits until further notice, while the hazardous devices and emergency managers conduct a sweep of the area to make sure there isn’t any other ordnance out there.

Roark said there have been a couple of sighting each year of old unexploded ordnance around Los Alamos.

“It’s become pretty rare to find anything even semi-intact,” he said. “But obviously, it happens and people should use extreme caution.”

Nov 26, 2008

Follow-up to "Go Phish"

Hi Frank!
I've never submitted anything but I'm a fan. I'm guessing this is a response to the manager incident.

Keep up the good work!

Please keep me anonymous.

Thanks Anon!


As many of you have observed, the email quarantine that was to have gone into effect last Friday has not yet been activated. It will begin Wednesday COB. Just to clarify -- no email will be lost as a result of this quarantine. Any non-spam messages that have been quarantined will be automatically delivered after the holidays. You can also release quarantined messages yourself at any time by clicking on the "Release" link in your normal quarantine digest emails.

For those of you concerned about missing critical correspondence from domains other than the three that are automatically exempted from the quarantine (.mil, .gov, .edu), you can configure your own safelist (sometimes referred to as a white list) through the ProofPoint server. Any messages from domains or email addresses specified in your safelist will be allowed through the holiday quarantine filters and will be delivered to you immediately.

To add correspondents to your safelist, log onto using your email address and cryptocard passcode to authenticate. Click on the "Safe Senders List" on the left column. Then click on the "New" link in the header, add the domain or email address in the text field, and click the Save button. Please be careful when adding domains to your safelist. For example, please do NOT add or to your safe list. For large general use domains such as these, add only the full email address of your specific correspondent. If, however, you collaborate with several people at a small contracting company, it is fine to add that company's entire domain to your safelist.

In summary, if you do nothing over the holidays, your email will be delivered to you next week automatically. If you need to ensure immediate delivery of critical emails, either release the specific email from quarantine yourself, of configure a safelist to prevent messages from being quarantined.

Please power down all computers, other electronics, heaters and equipment that does not need to be running over the holidays. Its the right thing to do for safety, security, and energy conservation.

More Stupid Cyber Security Tricks

This popped up on my computer today. A certificate issued by our own cyber security team is marked as untrustworthy....

Are we having fun yet?

New LANL Deputy Director

The following was a comment on last night's Holiday Email Quarantine post. There is also an announcement in today's LANL Daily News Bulletin. I was unable to find a photo or bio for this post, just a few stories about him being named the federal security director for O'Hare International Airport. Is he a relative of Gov. Bill Richardson? I don't know.

In typical LANS fashion, a major leadership change was announced today via LINKS - knowing full well that only 10% of the workforce is on site.
From/MS: Michael R. Anastasio, A100
Phone/Fax: 7-5101/7-2997
Symbol: DIR-08-270
Date: November 25, 2008
SUBJECT: New LANL Deputy Director

I am pleased to announce that Isaac “Ike” Richardson has been named the new deputy director of the Laboratory, effective February 1, 2009. Ike will replace Jan Van Prooyen, who – after three years at the Lab and a distinguished 43-year career in national security matters – has announced his plans to retire in early 2009.

Ike brings 37 years of leadership experience to Los Alamos. He spent 31 years in the U.S. Navy, where he attained the rank of rear admiral. He commanded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and provided strategic direction of large, complex organizations, such as the naval aircraft carrier program. He also provided oversight of storage and compliance programs for pre-positioned U.S. nuclear weapons assigned to NATO throughout Europe. He joined Bechtel in 2003. Most recently, Ike oversaw Bechtel’s civil infrastructure projects in Qatar, where he guided development of the $11 billion New Doha International Airport. Before that, he directed Bechtel’s Defense and Space division and Aviation business line. He has a master of science degree in aeronautical systems from the University of West Florida, a master of arts in strategy and policy from the Naval War College, and a bachelor of engineering degree from Vanderbilt University.

There will be a 60-day overlapping transition period between the two deputy directors. I personally want to thank Jan for his commitment to the Laboratory, valuable insights and extraordinary operational leadership over the last couple of years. Please join me over the coming weeks (and months) in wishing Jan the very best in his retirement.

Nov 25, 2008

Holiday Email Quarantine

Hi Frank,

This was sent out late this afternoon. Classic. Why not just have CIO work over the holiday weekend like real f'ing company would? Instead let's inconvenience everyone else at the Lab. Better yet, we will just have to send work e-mails over our home accounts. What a great idea - that should go over real well during January's audit.

Anonymous, please....

I think you're forgetting - this is the holiday when turkeys need to go into hiding.

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: LANL-ALL2258: Holiday email quarantine
From: "Distributions" []
Date: Tue, November 25, 2008 4:26 pm


Holiday email quarantine

The laboratory Chief Information Officer has directed changes in our network security policy over holidays. There is an increased threat from cyber attacks during these periods as adversaries expect their targets to be lightly staffed and therefore will not notice their attacks until it is too late.

All mail coming into the lab from the Internet will be quarantined for the holiday period. It will be released the morning of the first business day back to work. If you expect important programmatic email over the holidays, you have two options: add your correspondent(s) to your spam safelist, or periodically check your spam quarantine for those important messages to release them. For information on how to do this, see the email spam FAQ at

Nov 23, 2008

Sounding the Nuclear Alarm

The U.S. will not have a credible arsenal unless Washington acts soon to replace aging warheads.

By MELANIE KIRKPATRICK, The Wall Street Journal

New York

Gen. Kevin Chilton, a former command astronaut, is no stranger to cutting-edge technology. But these days the man responsible for the command and control of U.S. nuclear forces finds himself talking more often about '57 Chevys than the space shuttle. On a recent visit to The Wall Street Journal he wheeled out the Chevy analogy to describe the nation's aging arsenal of nuclear warheads. The message he's carrying to the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, the press and anyone else who will listen is: Modernize, modernize, modernize.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons program has suffered from neglect. Warheads are old. There's been no new warhead design since the 1980s, and the last time one was tested was 1992, when the U.S. unilaterally stopped testing. Gen. Chilton, who heads U.S. Strategic Command, has been sounding the alarm, as has Defense Secretary Robert Gates. So far few seem to be listening.

The U.S. is alone among the five declared nuclear nations in not modernizing its arsenal. The U.K. and France are both doing so. Ditto China and Russia. "We're the only ones who aren't," Gen. Chilton says. Congress has refused to fund the Department of Energy's Reliable Replacement Warhead program beyond the concept stage and this year it cut funding even for that.

Gen. Chilton stresses that StratCom is "very prepared right now to conduct our nuclear deterrent mission" -- a point he takes pains to repeat more than once. But the words "right now" are carefully chosen too, and the general also conveys a sense of urgency. "We're at a point where we need to make some very hard choices and decisions," he says. These need to be "based on good studies that would tell us how we would modernize this force for the future to incorporate 21st century requirements, which I believe are different than in the Cold War."

"We've done a pretty good job of maintaining our delivery platforms," the general says, by which he means submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles and intercontinental bombers. But nuclear warheads are a different story. They are Cold War legacies, he says, "designed for about a 15- to 20-year life." That worked fine back when "we had a very robust infrastructure . . . that replenished those families of weapons at regular intervals." Now, however, "they're all older than 20 years . . . . The analogy would be trying to extend the life of your '57 Chevrolet into the 21st century."

Gen. Chilton pulls out a prop to illustrate his point: a glass bulb about two inches high. "This is a component of a B-61" nuclear warhead, he says. It was in "one of our gravity weapons" -- a weapon from the 1950s and '60s that is still in the U.S. arsenal. He pauses to look around the Journal's conference table. "I remember what these things were for. I bet you don't. It's a vacuum tube. My father used to take these out of the television set in the 1950s and '60s down to the local supermarket to test them and replace them."

And here comes the punch line: "This is the technology that we have . . . today." The technology in the weapons the U.S. relies on for its nuclear deterrent dates back to before many of the people in the room were born.

The general then pulls out another prop: a circuit board that he holds in the palm of his hand. "Compare that to this," he says, pointing to the vacuum tube. "That's just a tiny, little chip on this" circuit board. But replacing the vacuum tube with a chip isn't going to happen anytime soon. The Department of Energy can't even study how to do so since Congress has not appropriated the money for its Reliable Replacement Warhead program.

It ought to go without saying, but the general says it anyway: His first priority for nuclear weapons is reliability. "The deterrent isn't useful if it's not believable, and to be believable you got to have tremendous, complete confidence that your stockpile will work. . . . We have that today. Let me be clear: We have that. We've monitored the stockpile, made adjustments as necessary, but, again, we're on the path of sustaining your '57 Chevrolet."

Security is another priority -- especially keeping nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. This, he says, is another vital reason to modernize weapons that were designed and built in another era.

"In the Cold War you didn't worry about the Soviets coming over here and stealing one of our weapons. They had plenty of their own. . . . But now you worry about these things."

It's possible to design a terrorist-proof nuke, the general says. "We have the capability to design into these weapons today systems that, should they fall into wrong hands -- [should] someone either attempt to detonate them or open them up to take the material out -- that they would become not only nonfunctional, but the material inside would become unusable."

The general stresses the need to "revitalize" the infrastructure for producing nuclear weapons. The U.S. hasn't built a nuclear weapon in more than two decades and the manufacturing infrastructure has disappeared. The U.S. today "has no nuclear weapon production capacity," he says flatly. "We can produce a handful of weapons in a laboratory but we've taken down the manufacturing capability." At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. produced 3,000 weapons a year.

Under the Moscow Treaty, signed in 2002, the U.S. has committed to reducing its strategic nuclear arsenal by two-thirds -- to between 1,700 and 2,200 deployed nuclear weapons from about 10,000 at the height of the Cold War. "Deployed means they're either on top of an ICBM, on top of a submarine, or in a bunker on the base where the aircraft are located," Gen. Chilton says. "We're supposed to be down to those numbers by 2012, but we're on a glide path to actually get down to those numbers by the end of next year."

But these already-old weapons aren't going to last forever, and part of the general's job is to prepare for their refurbishing or replacement. "Think about what it's going to take to recapitalize or replace those 2,000 weapons over a period of time. . . . If you could do 10 a year, it takes you 200 years. If you build an infrastructure that would allow you to do 100 a year, then you could envision recapitalizing that over a 20-year-period."

There's also the issue of human capital, which is graying. It's "every bit as important as the aging of the weapon systems," the general says. "The last individual to have worked on an actual nuclear test in this country, the last scientist or engineer, will have retired or passed on in the next five years." The younger generation has no practical experience with designing or building nuclear warheads.

Generals don't talk politics, and the closest Gen. Chilton gets to the subject is to say that he had spoken to no one from either of the campaigns in the recent presidential election. It's a fair bet, though, that Barack Obama's comments on the campaign trail will not have escaped his notice. The president-elect likes to talk about a nuclear-free world and has said, "I will not authorize the development of new nuclear weapons." He has not weighed in on the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.

Gen. Chilton says the modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons is "an important issue for the next administration in their first year." At the very least, he says, the U.S. needs to "go out and do those studies" on design, cost and implementation. As for his own role: "You've got to talk about it. You can't just one day show up and say we have a problem."

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page.

[General Kevin P. Chilton has been added as a keynote speaker at the First Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit next week in Washington, DC.]

Go Phish

At a meeting last week, it was said that about 1400 of these phishing emails were sent out to LANL managers, and about 400 of them responded. Of those, some actually entered PII (personally identifiable information). The follow-on test will be to send employees thumb drives, CDs, and DVDs to see if they insert them into their computers.

Thanks! The CDs and DVDs make great coasters. Save a few for me. I'll be happy to take all of the thumb drives too. All of the USB ports here at Acme Labs are JB Weld free.

Avoid becoming target of phishing scams

November 20, 2008

A group of Laboratory employees were attacked last week - cyber attacked that is - as part of an effort to test employee awareness about "phishing" scams.

A Laboratory red team conducted a "phishing" attack on some employees. The attack used two different e-mail messages, one from "" with the subject "LANS Employee Survey," and the other from "" with "Congratulations!" in the subject line. The exercise was conducted under the direction of the Chief Information Office.

The e-mails were crafted to appear to be official correspondence, and they asked the employee recipients to click on an embedded link that took them to a Web site, said Maco Stewart of International Research, Analysis, and Technology Development (IAT-1), coordinator of the Lab's Information Security Operations Center. At the Web sites, recipients were prompted to provide additional information to either complete the "survey" or obtain their special gift.

Most employees receiving the e-mails recognized them as scams and either deleted them or reported the phishing attempt to their OCSRs. But some employees did click on the links, said Stewart.

"This type of attack is a common means used by adversaries who attempt to either gather sensitive information or deposit malicious software on the user's system," said Stewart.

Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam at work and home:
  • A well configured and patched system is the first line of defense. Contact a system administrator if not sure about the state of your system.
  • Ensure that your e-mail system does not automatically open any links or images. This is a setting that can be verified under the Options or Preferences menu for the email software.
  • Be suspicious of e-mail requests asking for inappropriate information, such as a home e-mail address, Z-numbers, or other personal information. Look for slight irregularities in the address or link, such as as opposed to a .gov address.
  • Most e-mail software enables the user to "hover" over a link to see whether the true linked destination site is the same as that shown in the blue text.
Phishing e-mails may contain spelling errors or sound too good to be true. When in doubt, contact an OCSR. Don't click first and ask questions later, as this could compromise both your system and potentially, other systems on the network.

Employees should forward suspicious e-mails to and contact the Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) at 5-8641. All information security events or incidents also must be reported to the SIT at 5-3505 during normal business hours or through SOC-Los Alamos after hours at 5-1279.

A list of cyber security contacts is here.

Nov 22, 2008

It does not require an expert in the field...

Here is Redondo's reply that was mentioned in the comments yesterday.

Reply to "Comment on 'Density-matrix formulation of ab initio methods of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics'"

It does not require an expert in the field to detect the weasel.

Thanks Anonymous!

Report: Sandia Violated Nuke Standards

By John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Sandia National Laboratories cut corners in the manufacture of a key component for U.S. nuclear warheads, government investigators have found.

In one case, engineers responsible for ensuring quality standards for the warhead parts were removed from their jobs because of a disagreement over the approach to ensuring the components met the exacting standards required for parts that go into the nuclear stockpile, according to the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General.

The office Friday released a terse, one page summary of a classified report on the agency's investigation.

According to the sum-mary, the investigators were responding to an anonymous letter alleging "serious problems" with the way Sandia handled manufacturing of the parts, used in the Navy's W76 submarine-launched nuclear warhead.

Spokesman Michael Padilla issued a statement saying "only products with the highest quality" are provided by Sandia for the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

Sandia is responsible for manufacturing neutron generators, small devices that help jump-start a nuclear warhead's detonation. Because they decay over time, they must be routinely replaced.

In April 2001, Sandia went looking for a new supplier for one of the components needed for the W76 "after disagreements between Sandia and the existing supplier," according to the investigation report summary.

The new supplier "had no experience" making the nuclear weapon parts in question.

The change to a new supplier, according to the report, was made despite the fact that there was only a small number of parts left to be built.

Quality control standards for nuclear weapon parts are highly exacting, and the Inspector General's report questions whether those standards were met in the case of the W76 parts. For example, Sandia failed to follow procedures intended to ensure the new supplier was qualified to do the work, according to the report.

Sandia also dropped the requirement for a "pilot" manufacturing phase to screen out manufacturing problems, according to the report.

Padilla said the supplier selected for the work was the "best technically qualified and best value supplier," and that improvements in Sandia's procedures have been made in response to the issues raised by the Inspector General.

Nov 21, 2008

Complaint filed against LAPD

By CAROL A. CLARK, The Los Alamos Monitor

A Los Alamos resident and former Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist alleges that he was the victim of "jailing and beating and subsequent abuse of authority" on and subsequent to Nov. 24, 2006 by Los Alamos police.

Richard Morse, 73, filed a complaint Nov. 12 in First District Court against the LAPD. He is seeking $300,000 for pain and suffering, another $20,000 for the theft of his two automobiles as well as court costs and interest.

The complaint stems from a Nov. 27, 2006 incident in which Morse was pulled over on Peach Street by an officer whom he said told him he had a flat tire. Morse was then arrested on an outstanding Municipal Court Warrant.

The warrant stemmed from a list of offenses, including a front-end collision at Canyon Road and Central Avenue in July 2006 in which he was ticketed but did not appear in court, lack of insurance and failure to pay a parking ticket, he stated in a detailed report of the incident.

There also was a matter regarding a rental car theft, Morse said, adding that it was his wife Penny Morse who was involved, but that it was actually someone else who had the car.

Morse was taken to jail on the outstanding warrant. He states that a jailer gave him an orange and white striped prison outfit to wear. He requested his mug shot be taken in his street clothes, according to the complaint, because he was concerned that he would be defamed by the photo in prison stripes being circulated outside the jail.

During his few hours in jail Nov. 27, 2006, Morse states that his four upper teeth were broken off by police. He also says he sustained an indented left rib area and sore fingers from being bent back by police officers.

The police booking video of the incident shows two officers asking Morse several times to change from his street clothes into the jail outfit. Morse repeatedly refused. After several minutes, the officers quickly laid Morse down on his back and remove his street clothes, shoes and socks.

The officers left the cell and Morse sat on the cell floor with his arms crossed for some time. He then began requesting his cardiologist. The booking video does not show signs of violence on the part of the officers.

Capt. Randy Foster explained during an interview Thursday that the reason police policy requires inmates to wear jail clothes is for the safety of both the inmate and jailers.

Jail clothes are specially made so nothing can be hidden inside the clothes and the material is specially made to break away easily so inmates can’t injure themselves, he said.

Morse declined to comment on the case citing advice from his lawyer but did say that he had filed a complaint within three months of the incident but because of “undue influence” he was not able to find a lawyer to take the case. He decided to file the case on his own last week.

Morse states in his complaint that he began feeling cardiac symptoms and requested his cardiologist. He recognized the heart symptoms, he said, from a previous experience in 1997 in which he says his son, James Morse, was murdered in San Francisco on the eve of the deadline for Morse to retire with LANL medical benefits. As a result, he does not have medical benefits, he said.

Morse was transported to Los Alamos Medical Center. He left the hospital the following day, he said, after a nurse appeared with two hypodermic needles containing something he recalled her saying was to relax him.

Police Chief Wayne Torpy said Thursday that his department has not been served with an official notice of the complaint.

The county legal department will handle the matter when the time comes, he said. Torpy added that as required by the Open Records Act, all related documents and video material are available for viewing.

Morse states in his report that his arrest was, “clearly related to and a consequence of my complaining, first to the U.S. Government Administration DOE-Science Office and then to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee about the certain non-functional state of the Trident submarine warhead, the W76, designed and developed by Los Alamos under Director Harold Agnew.”

He referred to a March 16, 2004 meeting he attended in which LANL and NNSA officials were displeased that he was voicing concern about the too-thin casing on the W76 warheads. Following the meeting he says his car was vandalized while parked in front of his home on Bath Tub Row.

On the 16th of each month for several months following the “disagreeable” LANL/NNSA meeting, Morse claims there was evening vandalism against both his home and car.

He added in the report that on the 16th of one particular month, his cat was brutalized twice, saying he has X-rays that show the little bones in its hindquarters were shattered with a garden hoe.

He also has X-rays showing the cat received a blow to its small head.

During this same time period, Morse says his post office box was changed to number 666 - the symbol of the devil.

To resolve his complaints against LAPD, Morse is demanding a trial by jury.

[A copy of the court filing can be downloaded here.]

Summary of Inspection Report on “Issues Related to the Production of Components for the W76 Weapon System at Sandia National Laboratory – New Mexico”

A primary mission of the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory-New Mexico (Sandia) is ensuring that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable and that it can fully support the Nation’s deterrence policy. In the early 1990s, Sandia undertook to design a replacement neutron generator for the W76 nuclear warhead.

The Office of Inspector General received an anonymous letter alleging serious problems with regard to the sourcing, fabrication, and qualification of certain W76 components. As a result, we initiated an inspection to review the facts and circumstances surrounding the issues raised regarding procurement, contract management and quality assurance.

Results of Inspection

We determined that in April 2001, after disagreements between Sandia and the existing supplier over production costs, Sandia competed the production contracts for these components. The 2001 contract transition by Sandia shifted the production from a supplier that had successfully produced the components to a new supplier that had no experience producing these particular War Reserve components. This action was taken even though there was only one production build left, resulting in substantial additional costs. We also found that there were problems with the execution of established policies and procedures in the procurement, contract management and quality assurance processes associated with Sandia and the new supplier. Taken together, these issues raised questions about the overall effectiveness of Sandia’s quality management system for nuclear weapon products. Specifically:
  • During the contract award process, Sandia’s review of the technical proposals and its review of price/cost reasonableness did not adhere to procedures intended to provide assurance that the production contracts were awarded to suppliers that were technically qualified and fully understood the quality requirements for the production of the components.
  • For one of the components, Sandia eliminated a required phase of “pilot” production intended to screen out problems in equipment, production processes and documentation. In addition, Sandia did not adhere to prescribed policies related to product acceptance.
  • During production of the same component, the independence of Quality Engineers was not maintained in a manner consistent with the quality requirements of the Nuclear Weapons Complex. We found that the Quality Engineers were removed from the production effort over internal disagreements regarding their roles and responsibilities. In addition, Sandia was not effective in establishing a quality management system for the production of the components.
After our inspection was underway, a Sandia official raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the overall quality management system Sandia used to design and procure nuclear weapon products and initiated a series of corrective actions to address these issues. Further, the Site Office evaluated Sandia’s performance for Fiscal Year 2007 and identified the need for improvements that would enable the early identification and correction of quality issues by Sandia.

This is a summary of report S06IS038, which has not been published in its entirety because it is considered Official Use Only (OUO). This summary is not considered OUO.

Nov 20, 2008

Waxman wrestles gavel from Dingell

By Mike Soraghan,

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) will become the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee after House Democrats voted to replace current Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Waxman won 137-122 in the secret ballot vote.

The dramatic intra-party showdown for the coveted position signals a leftward turn for the Democratic agenda. The outcome was a blow to the seniority system and a victory, at least in perception, for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Though her aides denied it, many saw the hand of Pelosi in Waxman’s challenge for the post, which conveys great power over how the Democratic agenda of President-elect Barack Obama will be implemented.

Waxman is considered more liberal on issues like climate change, energy and business regulation, and potentially more aggressive on healthcare. Dingell, the longest-serving House lawmaker, is close to the auto industry and autoworkers.

Following the Democrats’ election sweep earlier this month, Waxman, currently the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, challenged Dingell for the top spot on the Energy and Commerce panel, which will be involved in all energy legislation and will also play a major role in Obama’s plans to put in place a national healthcare system.

The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted 25-22 on Wednesday to endorse Waxman over Dingell and the full Democratic caucus voted on the chairmanship on Thursday morning.

Report criticizes DOE nuclear safety

By ROGER SNODGRASS, The Los Alamos Monitor

In a lengthy report released Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office questioned the effectiveness of the Department of Energy’s nuclear safety program for 205 high-hazard facilities, including the 19 facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In an unusual sign of contention, officials of the Department of Energy responded with 20 pages of formal comments on why they found GAO’s draft report to be “fundamentally flawed” and disagreed with many of its conclusions, prompting GAO to add several more pages of responses to DOE’s detailed comments.

Reps. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, who requested the report issued a joint statement saying, “the report confirmed their concerns about how safety has taken a backseat at DOE because the offices responsible for safety also face competing concerns in the area of productivity.”

The report focuses on the effects of DOE’s decision in 2006 to combine what were separate offices for safety and health and for safety and security performance assurance into a single Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS), with a few left-over functions distributed to other offices.

While on one level a typical act of bureaucratic consolidation, the decision was interpreted by critics as a political decision at the time that sacrificed health and safety in favor of productivity, while proponents argued that it would result in less wasteful paperwork and a more effective system of national security.

GAO’s conclusion, in brief, “is that DOE has structured its independent oversight office, HSS in a way that falls short of meeting our key elements of effective oversight of nuclear safety.”

Specifically, the GAO found that the combined office lacks independence, technical expertise and the ability to perform reviews, while not doing enough to require that findings be addressed, enforced and subject to public access.

In its detailed response, DOE rejected those conclusions, charging that GAO had evaluated HSS in isolation rather than in the context of the overall DOE governance model.

And, among other flaws, that GAO was imposing its own preconceived opinion of the functions of that office, rather than having an open-minded acceptance of the possible validity of other approaches than its own.

The structural change at DOE was fiercely opposed by worker safety proponents and public interest groups in Washington as soon as DOE announced its intention in May 2006.

One campaign organized by the Government Accountability Project at the time included letters from former Environmental Safety and Health Assistant Secretaries, professional and labor organizations, and a joint letter signed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire.

DOE also anticipated and confronted objections from the beginning, declaring that the intent of the restructuring was “not to dismantle safety.”

In releasing the report, Congressmen Dingell and Stupak said they were encouraged by the report to consider finding an external regulator for the department, if it continues to fail to take appropriate measures.

[Click here to download Nuclear Safety: Department of Energy Needs to Strengthen Its Independent Oversight of Nuclear Facilities and Operations.]

Nov 19, 2008

Supplemental Life Insurance

If you haven't done so already, you can now increase your supplemental life insurance to 5x your salary with no medical evaluation. After 11/21, a medical evaluation will be required to increase the insurance level.

Also, the Health Care Reimbursement level is automatically set to $0.00, so you have to re-enlist in this program to set aside pre-tax $ for medical expenditures.

Thanks Anonymous. As one commenter just pointed out, "Given the dangerous stress levels present at LANL, increasing your life insurance may not be such a bad idea."

Nov 17, 2008

Comment of the Week

Things are really heating up in the recent Terry Wallace post. Just take a look at the comment below!

If you haven't been following this controversy it begins here. In later comments the charges become quite specific and there are links to download the relevant documents.

Anyone want to predict how this will play out?
Anonymous said...

The posters here are correct. Redondo's case = clear-cut plagiarism. Simple homework: read his "paper" & the "Comment" then follow refs therein.

At any half-decent institution, this sort of gross misconduct would've meant the end of one's scientific career. Not at LANL though where up is down and down is up. The guy stopped doing science, moved into management and years later was made Theoretical Division Leader!

Ask yourself: how can a plagiarist become a leader of a premier division at a major natl lab? The story of corruption actually goes deep here and makes for an interesting investigation. (Hint: Bishop really wanted to install a yes man to do dirty work for him. Redondo fit the bill perfectly: dumb and loyal. Bishop and Terry W. knew very well that Redondo had scientific fraud in his past, but hid that info from the committee. )

This kind of rotten culture permeates LANL. A good investigative journalist only needs to dig a bit -- it's a treasure trove.

11/17/08 12:42 AM

New information security training required for Laboratory employees

A comment on the This is Getting Stupid post...

>From the LANL [only] NewsBulletin, posted 17 Nov 2008:
New information security training required for Laboratory employees

November 17, 2008
Must be completed prior to winter closure

New online training about information security is required for all Laboratory workers using a Laboratory computer.

"We're required to train all Laboratory workers on the new information security procedures in order to better protect our information," said Leslie Linke of the Chief Information Office (CIO).

Linke said all employees must complete the new annual information security refresher training, course number 47075 (or course number 47926 for employees who don't have an administrative-level cryptocard), before the Laboratory's winter closure begins on December 25.

Information security, formerly part of the annual security refresher training (course number 1425), has been expanded to provide employees a more comprehensive understanding of their responsibilities in helping the Laboratory meet its cyber defense requirements, said Linke. She emphasized that the new annual information security refresher is now required in addition to the annual security refresher training.

Beginning today the new training can be found through the Virtual Training Center. Employees receive credit for the course through the Virtual Training Center upon completion.

Fellows Prize winners recognized

[Since this story contains little more than names and a photo, I waited until today to publish it because more information was promised in today's News Bulletin. It seems there are two News Bulletins, one for the public and one for internal use only. Hopefully someone will email me the story that LANL doesn't want the public to see.]

November 14, 2008

Jaqueline Kiplinger, left, of Condensed Matter and Thermal Physics, talks with Monica Misra of Genome Science at the Fellows Prize winners reception Wednesday at the J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center.

Kiplinger, Amit Misra and Andrew Shreve both of the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies are the 2008 Laboratory Fellows Prize recipients.

Laboratory employees nominate staff members for the Fellows Prize. A committee of Lab Fellows reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the director.

See Monday's NewsBulletin for more information.

Energy Research Can't Fill Labs' Looming Nuke Gap

By John Fleck, Of the Journal

Ben Ray Luján looks at Los Alamos National Laboratory and sees tremendous promise.

"We have an incredible brain trust in Los Alamos that we have to protect," Luján said in an interview Wednesday, a week after his election to represent Los Alamos and much of Northern New Mexico in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Luján ticked off a list of programs he thinks are important — nuclear non-proliferation, cyber security, better ways of storing energy, computer modeling of the U.S. energy grid and study of the spread of infectious diseases. Those programs need the government's support in order to flourish, Luján said.

Notably absent from Luján's list was the design of U.S. nuclear weapons and the manufacture of their explosive plutonium cores — work that makes up 67 percent of the lab's $2 billion-plus annual budget. And therein lies the dilemma. Because as New Mexicans look at the future of two of their largest employers, Los Alamos and Sandia national labs, there are wishes and there are harsh realities ahead.

The wishes involve new, expanding missions beyond the nuclear weapons work that has sustained the two labs since they were founded in the 1940s. Energy is the most often mentioned alternative. The harsh reality is that nuclear weapons remain at the core of what both labs do, and nuclear weapons face an uncertain future.

"People are already writing lots of articles out here about how the defense budget is going to take a big hit," said David Culp, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a peace group.

While the federal purse strings are likely to be clamped tight, Culp notes that there is at least one striking exception. The Obama administration, Culp said, "is clearly going to dump huge amounts of money" on energy research. The question is how much of that Los Alamos and Sandia will be able to get.

January 2009 will bring change for the labs on two fronts.

The first is the inauguration of a new president, and the process that will follow as the Obama administration articulates a nuclear weapons policy that is at this point largely undefined.

Of more immediate importance is the retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who as a senior Senate appropriator has long been the labs' fiscal guardian angel.

In recent years, that has involved an annual battle with a House of Representatives bent on cutting the nuclear weapons budget. Last summer, for example, the House voted to cut an estimated $300 million from Los Alamos' budget and another $60 million from Sandia's for the 2008-09 fiscal year. Domenici counter-punched, and in the end the fight was halted when Congress failed to pass an '08-09 budget, opting instead when the new fiscal year began Oct. 1 to continue spending at last year's levels through at least March.

What happens after that is anyone's guess. It appears unlikely that the current Congress will finish a March-through-October 2009 budget. That means the first set of decisions about the labs' financial future will be made by a Domenici-less Congress and an Obama administration.

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised $150 billion over 10 years for renewable energy, and lab backers hope some of that money can flow into Los Alamos and Sandia.

But those within the federal energy establishment point to reasons why the potential may be less than New Mexico labs' backers hope.

Sandia and Los Alamos are just two among 21 Energy Department labs and research centers. Many have stood on the sidelines watching while Sandia and Los Alamos saw their nuclear weapons budgets grow, and will likely think that it is their turn now. More importantly, other labs — most notably the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado — already specialize in the sort of work the Obama administration wants to fund.

Los Alamos and Sandia may be able to get a small piece of the action, one knowledgeable insider told me, partly by partnering with other energy research centers. But it is unrealistic to expect expanded energy funding to make up for any declines in nuclear weapons spending.

Activist Still Seeking Home for Anti-Nuke Monument

By Raam Wong, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS — It's been a couple of years since the man known as Atomic Ed commissioned a huge granite monument marking the first nuclear bomb explosion.

The hulking stones sit in their original shipping containers outside Ed Grothus' surplus store, where, for decades, he has hawked Geiger counters, circuit boards and other widgets and gizmos recycled from the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory.

It appears that the monument could meet the same fate as most of the inventory piled inside Grothus' store, the Black Hole, where it's said everything goes in, but
nothing comes out.

The peace activist can't find a home for his creation, composed of a pair of 33-foot-high obelisks that will sit atop black granite cubes. These "doomsday stones" are inscribed with a message in 15 languages that Grothus says will help some future civilization decipher things on Earth after a nuclear holocaust.

Grothus knows nuclear weapons well, having worked at the lab for more than 20 years. He sees his employment there as training to later understand the mechanical calculators, centrifuges and other relics crammed inside the store.

But there's one subject about which Grothus says he's still in the dark. "I'm dying," he said bluntly during a recent interview. "I don't know how to die. I've never died before."

Grothus, 85, is suffering from inoperable cancer, an illness that leaves him sore and miserable.

He hopes his obelisks will soon find a home and serve as towering reminders of the nuclear threat posed to humanity.

Beyond that, Grothus — an icon for peace activists, scourge to neighbors and celebrated eccentric across the globe — isn't talking much about his legacy.

But he will say this: "There's always one man who makes a difference. Jesus Christ. Joseph Stalin. Chairman Mao. Abraham Lincoln. And Ed Grothus."

For a man who is the self-proclaimed bishop of his own church, the one-time target of a Secret Service investigation after sending "organic plutonium" to the White House, and the owner of a $200,000 monument, it's hard to know if Grothus is kidding.

Shakers, mixers, stirrers
Born June 28, 1923, in Clinton, Iowa, Grothus' upbringing may explain his aversion to waste. "We were just poor," he said. "We never threw anything away."

Eager to explore the world, Grothus served in the Merchant Marine before joining the fledgling federal lab at Los Alamos on March 26, 1949, four years after the atomic weaponry invented there ended World War II.

He began as a machinist before joining a weapons group dedicated to making what he sarcastically calls "better" bombs.

But the Vietnam War turned him against nuclear weapons, and soon the surplus store that he opened inside an old Piggly Wiggly became a place to organize peace efforts.

To follow Grothus on one of his aimless tours through his 17,000-square-foot store is to take a trip through atomic history. The shopkeeper, with a puff of unruly white hair, wears his trademark purple camouflage pants and a 5-inch bolo tie.

"I make a business of selling last year's scientific equipment and hardware," Grothus says as he shuffles past metal shelving filled floor to ceiling with who knows what. "I only sell about 5 percent of what I buy so I've built a huge pile over 50 years."

As he shuffles swiftly through the store, Grothus kicks pieces of equipment aside, bangs a mallet against a bomb part and fiddles with a red panic button, to the slight consternation of onlookers.

There are typewriters and gauges, refrigerators and radios. Centrifuges, compactors, connectors and cords. One box is marked "satellite parts." Somewhere in the distance, a beeping smoke detector needs its battery replaced.

Hard of hearing, Grothus calls out what he sees. "This is all fiber optics. That's a vacuum over there. These are transformers." He looks around the corner. "Shakers, mixers, stirrers."

"Every scientific discipline — Pressure! Flow! Vacuum!" he proclaims. "Tubes, all kinds of tubes."

He rests his hand on a large old-fashioned radio. "Someone told me this was Oppenheimer's radio," he says before scurrying on.

Down another aisle, a customer. "Welcome to the Black Hole," he says. "What do
you say, what do you do?"

Grothus generally charges half of what's listed in his catalog. Or, another method: "I X-ray the bill fold," he says, patting a reporter's back pocket, "and then I name the price."

Grothus keeps his valuable artifacts, like the Oppenheimer radio and heavy mechanical calculators, stashed away in a locked trailer for a museum he's been dreaming of.

Next door is an A-frame church, where he's the pastor of the First Church of High Technology, though "recently I elevated myself to cardinal," he says.

Grothus was raised and married in the Catholic church but is no longer religious. The religions don't practice what they preach when it comes to peace and love, he says.

Nuclear abolition
Grothus says he never called for closing LANL. But he does want the lab to change its mission to focus on renewable energy, something now being discussed in Washington.

He sees hope in president-elect Barack Obama's statements that he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons. "We've got to abolish the bombs," Grothus said, as he stood near a fading McGovern campaign poster on the wall.

Grothus hopes the message will live on in his monument, an embodiment of his motto "build, never destroy."

The 22-ton stones, quarried in China, are meant to play a role in future history similar to the Rosetta Stone that helped researchers decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The message at the monument's base reads in part: "It is only in Los Alamos that the potentials for unimagined, fantastic good and demonstrated horrendous evil are proximate."

The monument has sparked some criticism. Stephen Stoddard, a former state senator and lab retiree, has called the work degrading to the effort to save lives by eliminating the need to invade Japan to end the war.

Meanwhile, the Los Alamos public art advisory council has said no thanks to Grothus offer of the monument. It isn't art according to the council. The lab itself also said no, too.

"We certainly wish Ed well and appreciate the offer," lab spokesman Kevin Roark said. "But it's not something that we're in a position to accept."

Grothus can also envision the pillars in Berkeley, Calif., or perhaps under the arc in St. Louis. Recently when a couple tourists from Germany visited, Grothus said the obelisks could be placed anywhere — say, Berlin, maybe Munich?

But, for now, the columns rest on their sides in the shipping containers, where they're not immune to Grothus' hoarding habits. On top of one of the stones lay an autographed poster of Dolly Parton soaking in a hot tub.

Asked about the blond bombshell, Grothus could only shrug.

Chromium plume updated

Investigators may have found the middle of the contamination
By ROGER SNODGRASS, The Los Alamos Monitor

Los Alamos National Laboratory reported “the highest observed” levels of the contaminant chromium VI in the regional aquifer under Mortandad Canyon.

In an interview this morning Danny Katzman of the lab’s environmental stewardship project said this morning, “We could be looking at a plume that’s stationary.”

In its update on the first readings from a new well in Mortandad Canyon, the laboratory said the first samples show a level that is 16 times higher than the New Mexico drinking water standard, and twice as high as previous elevated readings a little farther down the canyon.

The purpose of the test well at R-42 was to try to define the size, boundaries and direction of the plume of the contaminant that is thought to have originated in the main administrative area of the laboratory prior to 1972.

Katzman said models and calculations pointed to the location as a likely spot for either finding the backside or the heart of the plume.

“We’re not surprised to hit closer to the middle,” he said.

Another well in Sandia Canyon, one canyon north, will add an additional piece to the puzzle, since it is designed to investigate an area in the regional aquifer below where an intermediate well has found elevated readings. Some indication of the tail of the plume may be discerned after the first samples are collected from that system in February 2009.

Two more wells are coming on line, farther down gradient from the well that made the original detection, to help trace a front edge of the plume and see how quickly it might be moving.

Katzman said the fact readings have not gone up at R-28, where chromium levels eight times the state drinking water standard were first detected, may mean there’s not that much movement down there.

“It doesn’t worm around in snakelike fashion down in the regional groundwater,” he said. “This is very porous and permeable area.”

The chromium probably originated in a chromate compound that was used to treat cooling water at a power plant in that area. Blow-down discharges containing a corrosion inhibitor, potassium dichromate, from a cooling tour were reported at a rate of about 60,000 gallons a week.

This effluent went into Sandia Canyon and is thought to have migrated into the neighboring Mortandad Canyon and found a fast pathway through the thick tuff and granite crust of the mountain and into the regional aquifer.

Since the chromium was detected in early 2005 and brought to the attention of regulators and the public at the end of 2006, it has brought a great deal of attention to the groundwater characterization and monitoring project at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In 2007, a National Academy of Sciences report found that the lab’s plan was “not adequate to provide early identification of potential contaminant migration with high confidence.”

Robert Gilkeson, a geologist whose alarms about inadequate groundwater protection at the laboratory led to the NAS study, continues to review every groundwater document from the laboratory.

In an e-mail Thursday he said the new results from R-42 “proves an immediate need to install new monitoring well” to replace at least 10 surrounding regional wells, “because of mistakes that cause these wells to hide detection of the chromium plume and other LANL contaminants.

Under prodding by the New Mexico environment department and persistent criticism from watchdogs and hampered by inadequate funding from the administration and Congress, the laboratory expects to complete a full report on the Sandia Canyon infiltration.

“A lot of wells are happening real fast,” Katzman said.

Dust revisited: Hot particle study unresolved

By ROGER SNODGRASS, The Los Alamos Monitor

PICURIS PUEBLO – The principal investigator of a community monitoring study looking for radioactive particles of dust around Los Alamos, spent part of an hour in this high mountain pueblo Wednesday, following up on some of the issues he has raised.

Marco Kaltofen, president of Boston Chemical Data, who authored a July 2007 study, made some brief remarks and answered a number of questions from local residents during a Community Radiation Monitoring Group meeting, an ongoing public forum on off-site radiation concerns in the community.

The study was financed on a shoestring by the Government Accountability Project. Tom Carpenter, formerly with GAP, now executive director of the Hanford Challenge, and a co-author of the report, told the group that citizen monitoring was an important alternative perspective because government agencies and contractors “are driven by regulatory requirements,” and sometimes miss things that aren’t spelled out in their standards.

More than 30 people including local residents, officials from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Environment Department, attended the meeting in the Tribal Government Building.

Picuris, since the days of the Cerro Grande Fire, has considered itself a downwind community, as does Dixon in the Embudo Valley. The Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group organized the meeting and assisted in the earlier study.

Kaltofen, who is now working on his PhD at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, declined to respond specifically to miscellaneous criticisms of his data and his interpretation of the data from officials of Los Alamos National Laboratory at the time the study.

Kaltofen’s emphasis was not so much on long-term averaging of radioactive exposures, but on unusually hot particles that he found in various accumulations of dust, mostly from indoor samples, where years of deposits can sometimes build up.

LANL’s responses to the study at the time, while disputing some of the data, argued that the radioactivity measured during the survey in November 2006 was largely a product of atmospheric testing and naturally occurring background emissions, mostly radon.

Kaltofen said Wednesday he had a lot of confidence in the analytical laboratory where his samples were processed, but that there were always disagreements on how to interpret it.

“Some of the results gave us questions as well,” he said, which has led to another round of sample taking during this visit and what he described as a more focused investigation.

He began his talk by asking the question, “What does all the data mean?”

There are many different sources of radiation and the fact that even bananas have traces of radioactivity often comes up in public meetings, he noted.

He said dust is an elusive culprit and merely knowing the levels of radioactivity was not enough information.

“We’ve tried to look at the dust particles as individuals,” in order to distinguish which of them came “from your yard, your neighbors’ yards, from the Saharan Desert of Africa, from nuclear tests in the South Pacific, and yes, some from Los Alamos, too,” he said. “We’d like to be able to give more detailed information on where the radiation comes from.”

Mike McNaughton, a laboratory environmental scientist who was one of those responding to the 2007 report, said after Kaltofen’s talk that there was little in this presentation that he could disagree with. McNaughton said he planned to give a presentation on several follow-up studies that have been done.

While disagreeing with 2007 report’s conclusions, McNaughton previously expressed his thanks to the researcher for raising an interesting avenue of investigation. The lab has meanwhile followed up with a series of studies that will be presented next month.

Among other investigations, McNaughton installed two sets of multiple radiation detection devices at the Los Alamos Monitor for three months each since early this year and has also investigated findings at the New Mexico Environment Department’s office in White Rock, two of the locations that were flagged with relatively high readings in the report.

A parallel investigation that an NMED official said they were working on last year has yet to get off the ground.

The public concerns expressed by residents at the meeting were centered on the risk of radiation in their own environments.

A woman who collects medicinal herbs, “remedios,” had an observation on the likelihood that certain kinds of plants might collect radioactive dust in certain ways.

“The mullion is a fuzzy kind of plant,” she said. “It seems to collect the finest kind of dust ... It makes me sad to think it may be collecting nuclear toxins.”

She said other plants are good at shaking things off and it might be useful to search the soil around them rather than the plants themselves.

Nov 15, 2008

Wallace discusses LANL's growing mission

By CAROL A. CLARK, The Los Alamos Monitor
"I believe that science at LANL is flourishing and we're in a better time now than perhaps any time in the past."

Finding solutions to the nation's energy dilemmas, including the means to store energy, is at the forefront of research underway at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Research critical to both the nation and the world.

The increasing role LANL scientists are playing in this field now, and will play well into the future, was a topic discussed by Terry Wallace, principal associate director for Science, Technology, & Engineering, during an interview Thursday.

"I believe that science at LANL is flourishing and we're in a better time now than perhaps any time in the past," Wallace said.

The interview on Behind the White Coat: Conversations with Los Alamos Scientists, took place in the Dynamic Stress Stimulation Laboratory (DSSL), which is one of several geophysics labs at LANL.

DSSL is a unique facility designed to study the effects of low frequency stress waves on permeability and multi-phase fluid flow in rock core samples. If this phenomenon can be understood and harnessed, Wallace said, it will lead to improved technologies for enhancing oil production and groundwater remediation.

Wallace praised LANL's geophysics scientists and suggested that everyone of them should be interviewed about the significant contributions they are making for the nation.

Wallace is responsible for all basic science programs at LANL, and for coordinating the activities of the four science and engineering directorates.

From 2005 to June 2006, he served as associate director of Strategic Research, which encompassed LANL's science program offices and the five line divisions that implemented those programs and supported LANL's nuclear weapons, threat reduction, and energy security missions.

Wallace also was responsible for the Laboratory's non-National Nuclear Security Administration Department of Energy programs, including basic science, energy technology, and environmental technology.

Prior to that position, Wallace was the division leader of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division.

Wallace was raised in Los Alamos and graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1974. He returned home in 2003 after spending 20 years as a professor of geosciences and an associate in the applied mathematics program at the University of Arizona.

He also served as director of the Southern Arizona Seismic Observatory.

In addition to teaching, Wallace carried out research on global threat reduction, nonproliferation verification, and computational geophysics.

During his academic career, he worked with LANL on nuclear test monitoring and threat reduction and in particular on interpreting the indications of nuclear testing by a foreign government.

Wallace has an international reputation in geosciences as applied to national security issues. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in geophysics from California Institute of Technology and B.S. degrees in geophysics and mathematics from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Wallace has authored or coauthored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications on seismology and tectonics, including ground-based nuclear explosion monitoring and forensic seismology. He also wrote Modern Global Seismology, which is one of the most widely used textbooks on seismology.

Wallace's interview can be seen in its entirety on PAC 8 and UCTV later this month.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Behind the White Coat: Conversations with Los Alamos Scientists is produced and hosted by Carol A. Clark and sponsored by Los Alamos National Bank.

Nov 14, 2008

New LANL Benefits Cut

Hello Frank,

This LANL internal email has been flying around as a fwd of a fwd of a fwd etc.

What seems to be new is: "The vacation will NOT be automatically transfer to sick leave as it does now. It is use or lose."

I've not seen any announcement of official new policy, though.

Please keep this anonymous.


In the new OTL system when an employee reaches their vacation maximum, the will no longer accrue any further vacation until they are under their maximum.

The vacation will NOT be automatically transfer to sick leave as it does now. It is use or lose.

Here are the maximums based on hire date and years of service.

Also, employees can go to MYLANL and look at "Vacation Sick Detail. Look at Cutback Max, they will see the max that they have been assigned.

Sandia Settles Labor Suit

By John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Sandia National Laboratories on Wednesday announced a $2 million settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor over the way the nuclear weapons research center handled worker overtime.

Some 2,600 Sandia workers will receive checks ranging from $18 to $930, according to a notice sent Wednesday by lab management to Sandia workers.

At issue was a dispute about the proper way to calculate overtime for hourly workers when Sandia shifted 10 years ago to a "9/80" work week, Sandia spokesman John German said. The policy allows Sandia employees to work five days one week and four the next, giving them a three-day weekend every other week.

In Wednesday's notice to staff members, Sandia Vice President John Slipke reiterated the labs' position that Sandia did nothing wrong.

"Sandia believes that its employees have been fully and fairly compensated for overtime hours worked and that the DOL findings are related to record-keeping deficiencies that have been corrected," Slipke wrote.

The problem involved the way Sandia divided up the hours worked. To properly split up the pay period hours, Sandia created a workweek break at midday each Friday, so half that day's hours would show up on the current week's time card and half on the coming week's time card, making each a 40-hour work week.

The problem, German said, came with the definition of "midday" because some workers come in early and leave early on Fridays.

Sandia adjusted its pay period calculations in May in response to the Department of Labor's concerns, according to the notice sent to workers Wednesday.

Nov 13, 2008

This is Getting Stupid

This is getting stupid.

I'm getting all kinds of warnings this morning about Cyber Security testing us with "phishing" emails, trying to trip us up.

Here's one I got.

Note that the email comes from, which is the website of our employer, and the link we're supposed to, umm, not click on is also hosted by our employer's website.

I'm confused now. How will I ever possibly be able to tell when something coming from our own employer is or isn't something I should act upon?

You have been given an opportunity to excel. Create a folder in your email program called "Phishing" and file every stupid request you receive in it. Imagine the time savings! As an added bonus, you can refer back to this folder should you ever forget how to spell "user-fieldly" or "security procaution". How's that for 'refining your expectations'?

> From: ***
> Date: November 13, 2008 8:14:47 AM MST
> To:
> Subject: Re: Phishing Email Warning
> Reply-To: ***

> There is also this one, which I
> am told is also a phishing
> attempt...

> ----------------------------
> Original Message
> ----------------------------

> Subject: LANS Employee Survey

> From: "Dustin Andrews"

> Date: Wed, November 12, 2008 6:42 am
> To: "Undisclosed Recipients"
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

> Dear LANS employee,

> As an employee of LANS/LANL, you
> have been identified to
> participate
> in the yearly LANS-LLC 360 degree
> feedback survey process. The
> purpose of

> this feedback is to gain your
> perspectives about how we (LANS)
> are meeting our employee's
> expectations and needs.

> Below is a link to the online
> survey. Your responses will be
> kept completely confidential.
> The survey is web-based. Your name
> will not be attached to any
> results. The survey is
> user-fieldly and you should
> be able to complete it within 15
> minutes or less.

> We appreciate your willingness to
> participate and value your
> feedback. Our hope is this
> process will help us meet and
> refine your expectations. Your
> response will help shape the
> future of LANL and
> LANS and is very important.

> While all data collected will be
> kept confidential and
> anonymized, as a security
> procaution you will be asked to
> authenticate with your LANL
> one-time passcode. Additional
> validation information may also
> be requested.

> To begin, please click the
> survey URL below:


> our participation is greatly valued.

Nov 10, 2008

Terry Wallace

I've received multiple requests for a post specifically dedicated to Terry Wallace. His name often comes up on the blog, so I did a little unscientific research to put things in perspective.

Using the Google query Wallace returned 301 results. Editing the query for a few common names here is what I found:
  1. Anastasio 1120
  2. Wallace 301
  3. D'Agostino 285
  4. Bodman 197
  5. Marquez 162
  6. Seestrom 82
  7. Neu 78
  8. Chandler 31
The count includes both posts and comments, though you have to remember Wallace is often referred to as simply "Terry". Also, some of the Wallace count refers to Jeanette Wallace. Try variations of the query yourself and let us know if you discover anything interesting. Initial results seem to indicate Terry Wallace is the second most discussed topic on this blog.

So for whoever requested it, here it is. The official Terry Wallace post.

Hewitt Headaches

This is still being sorted out; so if you put this up on your BLOG, I would appreciate it if you would NOT put my name on it.

A number of retirees are having difficulty with Hewitt and the 2009 LANL Health Insurance Plans. Those of us who are located outside the United Health Care (UHC) service area and are currently covered by the "Options PPO Out-of-Area" plan are being told we cannot get this plan for 2009 Every year, Hewitt has tried to move us to the "Options PPO National" plan which has twice the deductible and vastly higher copays for services obtained outside of the UHC service area. In the past, Hewitt would 'research' the eligibility for us and put us back on the Out-of-Area plan. This year, Hewitt refuses to put anyone back on the Out-of-Area plan saying that it is no longer available. Of course, LANL Benefits says that it is available for the eligible and the plan appears on the literature mailed to retirees by LANL and the LANL web pages.

Dealing with Hewitt on this matter is frustrating, time consuming, and of no avail. They string along callers saying they will call back in 2 days or 5 days which truncates the retiree's available time in Open Enrollment. They have apparently misled some retirees claiming that the National plan has the same deductible and copays for out of area services. In other cases, within a few sentences, they have alternately blamed LANL and UHC for the unavailability of the plan.

The bottom line is that the "Options PPO Out-of-Area" plan is advertised as available by LANL and should be available to those of us who are outside the UHC service area. We currently understand that between 100 and 200 retirees have been moved from the Out-of-Area plan to the National plan by Hewitt, and that Hewitt cannot or will not put us back on the proper plan which we all currently have. Hewitt claims that only LANL Benefits may make this change. We are currently trying to resolve this matter with LANL Benefits at 877-667-1806. So far we have not been successful in getting LANL to intervene. I can let you know if we get a resolution.

Thanks Anonymous. We have a reader in HR who helps with these issues. Greg, help!

Moving On

Fed up? Looking for a way out? Here are a few articles from this weekend that may be of interest to LANL blog readers who are looking to move along.

The first is Work at SRS secures its survival by Rob Pavey of The Augusta Chronicle.
In a nation whose nuclear arsenal is rapidly shrinking, bringing drastic changes and job cuts to some areas, Savannah River Site's role in tritium production will remain largely the same.

"We already have what we're going to get, which is the tritium facilities," said Jim Giusti, an Energy Department external affairs spokesman at SRS. "There won't be a lot of really visible differences, but we will see R&D (research and development) now at Los Alamos moved to Savannah River National Laboratory."
Next we have Kirtland To Watch Over U.S. Nukes from Charles Brunt of The Albuquerque Journal.
Economic boost
The Nuclear Weapons Center has been authorized to bring in 288 new personnel, including about 180 civilians. The positions range from nuclear engineers to clerical workers.

"By and large, bringing the personnel on with the right experience will be my biggest challenge," [Air Force Brigadier General Everett H.] Thomas said, adding that he hopes to have all 288 positions filled within 30 months.

"You know, you can't walk out on the street and find all the nuclear expertise you need, so that's why being here (in Albuquerque) is so great," he said, adding the center initially can draw talent from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Labs and the Air Force Research Lab.

"Of course, my gain is their loss, so we have to be very careful with that," Thomas said. "We can also bring in contractors, prior military and retired civilians who have done these jobs."

Thomas, who assumed command at the center on April 17, said he hopes to hire about 60 people immediately into leadership roles and have them assist in finding other qualified employees.
And finally, from the Las Vegas Channel 8 I-Team there is a two part report (See Part 1 and Part 2.) titled The Road Warriors about agents of the Office of Secure Transportation (OST). OST is hiring, though you'll want to review the physical fitness requirements before you get your hopes up. In my younger days I could easily meet the running requirement, but I've never been close to meeting the strength requirements. This certainly isn't the right job for most of us.

If any readers have ideas, questions, or especially success stories about how to move on, please share them here.

Nov 7, 2008

First Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit

First Annual

December 2 - 5, 2008

L'Enfant Plaza Hotel
Washington, DC

Transforming the Nation's Nuclear Operations in Recognition of New Global Realities

Keynote Speakers...

The Honorable Ellen Tauscher
U.S. House of Represnetatives, California
Thomas D'Agostino
Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration,
Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security

Registration opens at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Dec 2 followed by a Reception and Dinner at 6:00 p.m. The opening Plenary is at 8:00 a.m., Wednesday, Dec 3. The Forum ends at noon, Friday, Dec 5.

Transformation of the nuclear weapons complex and the future of the U.S. nuclear deterrent hangs in the balance as President-elect Barack Obama takes the reins of government on Jan 20 backed by an expanded Democratic majority in Congress.

Get the insight you need on what's next for the weapons complex sites, STRATCOM, nuclear material security, nonproliferation, and the U.S.'s nuclear posture from key officials, site managers and experts advising the incoming Administration.

Register now to attend the First Annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit

Visit to see agenda

An ExchangeMonitor Publications & Forums Event

Graham to lead Lab's environmental programs

Michael Graham is the Laboratory's new associate director for environmental programs (ADEP). Graham succeeds Susan Stiger, who has taken a new assignment with Bechtel National.

Graham comes to Los Alamos from the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site.

"Under Susan's leadership, the Laboratory has made great strides in its performance under the New Mexico Consent Order, significantly increasing shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP, and strengthening the Laboratory's groundwater monitoring program," said Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio. "I want to personally thank Susan for putting us on a positive path for the future."

For the past two years, Graham has been president of Bechtel Savannah River Inc., the contractor responsible for more than $400 million annually of construction, environmental remediation, decommissioning, and dismantlement at the DOE site. Previously at Bechtel Savannah River, Graham was a vice president with responsibility for a variety of soil and groundwater closure projects.

Prior to his Savannah River assignments, Graham managed for Bechtel environmental cleanup and restoration work at what was then known as Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and DOE's Hanford Site. He joined the Bechtel group of companies in 1996 following management positions with Battelle Memorial Institute (Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Richland, Washington) and Rockwell International (Hanford Operations, Richland).

Graham earned a doctoral degree in geological sciences from Indiana University. He earned a master's degree in geological sciences from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree in science from Notre Dame.

Nov 5, 2008


Change is in the air, whether you believe in it or not. Here are a few items of note and some you may have missed.

  • Look forward to a new president Obama in just a few short weeks. Congratulations president-elect Obama! That this will affect the lab in some way is, I think, unquestionable.

  • Steve Porter is leaving after less than two years as Laboratory General Counsel. I haven't even heard a rumor as to why. In fact, that he is leaving is still a rumor. I've seen no official announcement.

  • Yesterday DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Jim Rispoli, informed colleagues of his resignation. Given the timing, one would presume he wanted nobody to notice.

  • Doug Beason is leaving the laboratory soon. In a farewell announcement forwarded to me last night, he hinted that he is directing his energies towards a surprise attack against Hessians in Trenton, NJ on Christmas day.

  • And finally, a reader commented about changes at DARHT last night.
    "So the latest on DARHT is that it is now owned by ADWE; McMillan and ADWP turned their backs on it yesterday."
    My guess would be that repairs are not going well. Some things never change.

Nov 3, 2008

Funny Stuff with LLNS Benefits for Retired Folks

Hi Frank,
I can't believe this has not already been noticed but, I don't see it in the blog. I got this off of the LLNS blog, obviously.... Could this also be done here????? If so this is huge.

LLNS is keeping us in the dark as much as possible on health care options and costs. My wife and I are both Medicare-eligible, so we received the Medicare-eligible packet on October 28. I don’t know what options employees are getting, or the under-65 retirees. I talked to an employee friend, and he said the packet he received did not contain very much information.

Our packet said that all Medicare-eligible retirees are being dumped from the group health insurance plans effective next January 1. LLNS is moving to a defined contribution health plan instead of a defined benefit group plan for us Medicare retirees. What LLNS will provide us is a family Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), into which they will contribute $2400 in 2009 for each Medicare insured person (usually self or self plus spouse). We are responsible for purchasing individual Medicare supplement insurance or a Medicare Advantage plan, and Medicare pharmaceutical insurance, from an administrative management company “Extend Health” which LLNS has an arrangement with. We pay the premiums and get reimbursed from our HRA to the extent that the funds are sufficient. If anything remains, we can use that for other health care expenses (deductibles, copays etc.).

The biggest message in the packet is that Medicare retirees MUST contact Extend Health to select and enroll in a medical plan. If you do not make a plan selection with Extend Health your coverage will terminate effective January 1, 2009. (That is a direct quote from the booklet.) If a retiree is away from home, visiting relatives or on a tour, someone should get the message to them.

There is an exception for retirees in Kaiser. They can stay in the Kaiser group plan until sometime in mid-2009 when Extend Health is anticipated to have made an arrangement with Kaiser to be able to broker individual Medicare plans provided by Kaiser.

Other items from the packet – dental insurance stays under Hewitt. Retirees can participate in the Vision plan – VSP Access Plan. This is a discount program, not an insurance.

The information packet contains no information about the individual Medicare plans or their costs. Having to purchase an individual plan instead of being in a group plan, I strongly doubt that we will come out ahead.

The LLNS booklet says that we will receive a packet from Extend Health during the week of November 3.

The LLNS booklet tells us that Extend Health has a web site. They don’t say what the web site is, but we can look it up.

I found, first, that Extend Health is a recent startup. They raised $15 million in a second round of venture capital funding in August 2007. See Extend Health raises $15M for defined contribution health plans, or just go to and search their site for “Extend Health”.

The Extend Health web site is

Take a look at their Business pages, where they tell their prospective business customers that they can control current health costs and reduce corporate health liabilities and reporting obligations.

Extend Health is a combination of an administrative management company and an insurance agency.

You can look at the individual plans they have on offer. I found a few early facts. Medicare plans cover individuals. You select a plan for you and your spouse separately. The premium depends on where you live and increases with your age. It will take me a long time to go through the plans to find one which is similar to the group coverage I have this year, so I can compare cost.