in the News
U.S. in nuclear waste study
countries and regions have agreed in principle to participate in
a joint research project on deep underground disposal of spent nuclear
fuel. Work to develop disposal technologies would be performed at
the research centers of the five participants: Lawrence Livermore
in the U.S., the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute, the
(South) Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute, the Beijing Research
Institute of Uranium Geology in the Peoples Republic of China,
and the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research in Taiwan.
The U.S. Department of Energy
is playing a leading role
in the project and expects to build a joint research center
near Las Vegas, Nevada. Says C. K. Chou, associate director of the
Energy and Environment Directorate at Livermore, The United
States has already spent about $5 billion for an underground disposal
project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
We want to take advantage of the knowledge gained. Nations with
advanced nuclear power generation technology have a responsibility
to propose a way to dispose of spent nuclear fuel, while also promoting
nuclear reactor safety.
joint research project must solve a number of technical problems,
such as what type of rock is most suitable for a nuclear waste repository
and how to prevent radioactive material from contaminating groundwater.
South Korean officials have proposed that research be conducted
at an underground experimental facility they plan to build in Seoul.
Officials from the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute and
Lawrence Livermore have proposed contributing academic papers and
there is a possibility that China may accept spent nuclear fuel
from Taiwan, the project is not expected to deal with the disposal
policies of the participating nations, some of whom dispose of spent
fuel within their borders while others send it to other countries.
Contact: C. K. Chou (925) 422-4950 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
how wildfires will burn
In the fire season of 2000,
wildfires burned 6.8 million acres of public and private lands,
including large parts of
Los Alamos National Laboratory. Experts believe that annual wildfires
will increase and will ravage thousands of acres of land and endanger
In response to the threat,
scientists at the Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories
are working on an initiative for the National Wildfire Prediction
Program. They are combining Los Alamoss multiyear wildfire
modeling effort with existing capabilities at the National Atmospheric
Release Advisory Center at Livermore to predict the behavior of
wildfires and prescribed burns. The intention is to provide around-the-clock
guidance to fire management planners for the most effective use
of firefighting resources. They also want to predict the behavior
of fires of strategic interest around the globe.
LivermoreLos Alamos team has already developed wildfire models
and accurately simulated the behavior of historic fires. Livermore
researchers are linking a fire model to a regional weather prediction
model and performing simulations to reconstruct the early stage
of the 1991 fire in the Oakland hills of northern California. The
simulations test the combined models accuracy. Follow-on studies,
requested by emergency management and planning officials, will look
at hypothetical fires in nearby canyons that escaped the 1991 fire.
The information will improve preparedness for future wildfires.
atmospheric scientist Michael Bradley says that results of the modeling
and prediction initiative could move the nation into a new era of
scientifically based wildfire and vegetation management. He sees
the day when fire trucks will carry laptops to tap into a national
wildfire behavior prediction center and determine where to direct
firefighting troops. Eventually, the models might even predict the
effects of firefighting activities, which means firefighters would
be able to choose the safest and most effective techniques for specific
Contact: Michael Bradley (925) 422-1835 (email@example.com).
300 gets new lightning warning system
Lightning strikes there are
rare, but because Site 300 functions as an explosives test facility,
conservative safety precautions for lightning events are warranted.
Thus, the site has upgraded its lightning detection and warning
system. The system uses electric field mils, which detect the strength
of the electric field gradient, thereby indicating the potential
for lightning, and a new electrical storm identification device,
which optically detects and measures the sites distance from
Larry Sedlacek, Site 300
manager, says, The new detection equipment improves our ability
to accurately detect potential lightning conditions and safely shut
down explosives operations during those times. He adds, Well
be better able to gauge when employees working in the field need
to evacuate to a protected building.
during lightning events have been upgraded as well. The procedures
describe conditions that determine the Site 300 lightning status,
which is designated as all clear, lightning watch, or lightning
alert. Each designation is associated with appropriate actions.
Employees at Site 300 are warned of lightning alerts by building,
radio, and alpha pages. The complete procedures and more lightning
information can be found on the Web at www.llnl.gov/site300/PDFs/Final_Lightning.pdf.
Contact: Larry Sedlacek (925) 422-8853 (firstname.lastname@example.org).