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Las Cruces police respond to explosion hazmat on Hadley Avenue
LAS CRUCES - Authorities responded Saturday afternoon to a report of an explosion on West Hadley Avenue in Las Cruces.

About 4:20 p.m., an explosion was reported at 1760 W. Hadley Ave. A chemical was possibly released, prompting a hazardous materials response.

The Las Cruces Fire Department initiated a hazmat response. Las Cruces police were assisting. New Mexico State Police also were on scene.

Several agencies, including New Mexico State Police and the Las Cruces Fire Department, responded to a report of an explosion and hazardous materials situation on Saturday, March 9, 2019 on Hadley Avenue. (Photo: Diana Alba Soular/Sun-News)
LCPD Detective Frank Torres said the explosion of a "barrel/tank" of some sort was reported. But he didn't have information yet about what was in the barrel.

About 6:30 p.m., traffic was flowing in both directions on Hadley Avenue, and no streets appeared to be blocked in the area. Several emergency response vehicles were seen parked adjacent to the warehouse, and a numerous fire and police personnel were walking around the scene.
us_NM  industrial  explosion  response  unknown_chemical 
6 weeks ago by dchas
Carbon monoxide fumes send Las Cruces pecan plant employees to hospital
LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) - Four employees at a Las Cruces pecan plant were sent to the hospital after they were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes early Sunday morning.

According to a news release, firefighters responded at about 5 a.m. to a hazardous material call at the facility located at 2455 Entrada del Sol. 

Officials say two of the employees were unable to move on their own before first responders evacuated them from the building.

A total of six workers were affected by the fumes.

According to the release, firefighters determined that the employees' symptoms were a result of two gas-powered pressure washers that were used inside the enclosed building, which resulted in a buildup of carbon monoxide.

The fire department's hazmat crew cleared the air inside the plant and removed the pressure washers. 
us_NM  industrial  release  injury  carbon_monoxide 
8 weeks ago by dchas
Laser Engineered Net Shaping Tool Filter Fire
A filter caught fire on the supply side of a compressor/recirculation pump supplying argon gas to the process chamber of an additive manufacturing machine. The plastic tubes and electrical wiring adjacent to the filter also caught fire. Employees were aware of the change schedule for the in-process filters and of the fire hazard dangers associated with these filters. They were not aware of an additional filter outside the process chamber that was hidden behind an enclosing panel.
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us_NM  industrial  fire  response  equipment 
december 2018 by dchas
AFCEC Releases Water Sampling Results Near Cannon AFB; Clarifies Sampling Area
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) - The United States Air Force has released its results from an inspection to determine if chemical compounds from firefighting foam used a Cannon Air Force Base is contaminating off-base drinking water supplies.

According to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, 25 drinking water sources near the southeast corner of the installation were sampled.

Officials said they found thee locations where found where Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) concentrations in drinking water exceeded an Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion. 

The Air Force told us they have provided alternate drinking water at those locations.

Air Force officials told us two private wells had detectable levels of PFOS/PFOA below the EPA's lifetime health advisory, and the AFCEC will continue to monitor those wells to ensure levels remain below that level.

Officials also said 20 wells did not have detectable levels of either contaminant.
us_NM  public  release  response  other_chemical 
october 2018 by dchas
Lab Worker Files Suit After Plutonium Shipping Led to Firing
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former worker at a national laboratory who was fired for shipping weapons-grade plutonium by air instead of ground alleges in a lawsuit that he was made a scapegoat for problems at the New Mexico facility.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the legal action by Juan Montoya cited "root cause systemic failures in processes, procedures, supervision, resources (and) training" at Los Alamos National Security LLC.

Lab spokesman Matt Nerzig denies Montoya was singled out over the incident.

"Los Alamos National Security held accountable those involved from the individual contributor level up the management chain through actions that included terminations, suspensions and compensation consequences," Nerzig said in an email.

The incident followed a series of safety problems at the lab, including a fire in the plutonium facility that was linked to an unlabeled container and the shipment of mislabeled hazardous waste to a facility near Denver.

Montoya worked at the lab for 15 years before he was fired last summer from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Federal regulations require the shipping of plutonium by ground.

Montoya is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, among other things. Efforts by the newspaper to reach him for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
us_NM  laboratory  follow-up  environmental  plutonium 
october 2018 by dchas
Bulging Hazardous Waste Drum Discovered in Waste Area
Waste drums have the potential to pressurize, particularly if they contain an unusual proportion of chemicals. Organizations using mixtures of Castrol Hysol AM and water in waste drums should take precautions against drum pressurization. During previous clean outs, buckets of water were used to clean out the wet separator. In the last clean out a hose was used to clean out the wet separator resulting in the use of more water than the past. It is speculated that the additional water used significantly changed the water to Hysol AM ratio enough that the diluted mixture produced gas.
us_NM  industrial  discovery  response  waste 
october 2018 by dchas
Powerful explosive accidentally detonates at LANL
An explosion in a densely staffed sector of Los Alamos National Laboratory on Sept. 14 left one employee with multiple cuts and prompted lab officials to request emergency approval from the New Mexico Environment Department to safely detonate two compromised vessels containing highly explosive hazardous waste.

Both of the approximately 1.7-ounce containers were “unstable due to heat exposure and the presence of etching on the vessel exterior,” an incident report said.

“This condition posed an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment,” the report reads.

No radioactive material was involved in the incident, a lab spokesman said.

The detonation occurred during synthesis of a type of powerful non-nuclear explosive in development at LANL.

The injured worker, who sustained cuts to his or her hands caused by broken glassware, was treated at both Los Alamos Medical Center and University of New Mexico Hospital, the spokesman said. The employee has since been released and is back at work.
us_NM  laboratory  explosion  injury  waste 
september 2018 by dchas
AFR: 1 possibly injured after Freon leak
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Hazmat units are responding to a northeast Albuquerque Costco Friday afternoon after a Freon leak at the store may have injured one person, according to Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

AFR says multiple teams are responding to the leak at the store off Renaissance Boulevard. It's unclear at this time what may have caused it.
us_NM  public  release  injury  freon 
september 2018 by dchas
Innovative Collapsible Airlock Installation Challenges
Airlocks installed on LANL gloveboxes include neoprene and/orfluoropolymer elastomer sealing materials which are subject to aging, and chemical degradation during their service life. Some gaskets, have failed resulting in actions to temporarily restore sealing functionality. The current LANL designed glovebox airlock has remained the same since it was placed into use in the 1950's. This configuration was not designed to be easily replaceable or maintainable. This project was commissioned to design a replaceable airlock to correct degraded airlock sealing materials and install them without moving the glovebox. The airlock needed to be adaptable to various configurations as well as meet design requirements to prevent failure in the case of over-pressurization. The adjustable turnbuckles solved this issue and relieved the stress on the GB walls.
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us_NM  laboratory  discovery  environmental  plastics 
september 2018 by dchas
Sharps and Latent Shards, Learning from Past Events
As more activities are being released for normal operations, it is important to review past sharps related events. Sharp tools have the potential to contribute to personnel contamination incidents resulting from glovebox glove breaches/punctures. The heightened awareness is necessary to reinforce safety behaviors and practices while performing glovebox work. Proper hazard identification and controls are crucial to the safety of the worker. The sharps hazards include the use of hand tools and portable power tools. Incidental, or latent, sharps may include items that were not intended for cutting but nevertheless have the potential to cause a wound or glove breach with potential contamination and/or nuclear material uptake. This article includes several examples of significant glove breaches that have occurred at LANL's PF-4 facility.
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us_NM  laboratory  discovery  environmental  radiation 
august 2018 by dchas
New Mexico State Police Respond To Possible Hazmat Spill ... Interstate 25 Closed In Both Directions
At around 4 a.m. today, New Mexico State Police officers were dispatched to a semi crash and possible hazmat situation on Interstate 25 around mile post 110 ... about 40 miles south of Socorro.
After careful investigation, the cylinders on the semi carrying chlorodifluorobromomethane, were determined not to be ruptured and there was no hazmat spill. The driver of the CMV received only minor injuries.
us_NM  transportation  discovery  response  gas_cylinders 
july 2018 by dchas
2 people injured in battery tank fire in southern New Mexico
LOVING, N.M.
Authorities say two people have been injured after a battery tank fire at an oil refinery in southern New Mexico.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon at a refinery a few miles east of Loving and triggered a hazmat situation.

KRQE-TV reports that six tanks caught fire and the area around the refinery was evacuated.

Refinery officials say a perimeter at least a mile in all directions has been secured.
us_NM  industrial  fire  response  petroleum 
july 2018 by dchas
LANL paused some plutonium work for safety review
SANTA FE – A division of Los Alamos National Laboratory paused plutonium work in March after workers improperly placed a plutonium “pit” — the core of a nuclear weapon — in a glove box not authorized for that purpose and also placed fissile material samples into a pit hemishell, in two separate incidents.
The shutdown at the Pit Technologies Division in the lab’s plutonium facility was in response to the recent “process deviations” and provided time for managers to evaluate various safety issues, according to a report posted last week by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent federal agency that provides oversight at the nation’s weapons labs.

While there has not been a criticality accident — where an uncontrolled nuclear reaction takes place — at LANL since the 1950s, the lab has faced criticism over criticality safety issues in recent years. When too much plutonium is put in close quarters, a reaction can take place and lead to bursts of radiation that can be deadly.

A lab spokesman provided a statement saying, “The Laboratory’s criticality safety program continues to improve as evidenced by an increase in workers who are self-reporting process deviations and by a reduced rate of such deviation occurrences.
us_NM  laboratory  discovery  response  radiation 
may 2018 by dchas
Report: LANL work put on hold following violations
All work with special nuclear materials was put on hold at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility in March following two violations of safety requirements meant to prevent a nuclear chain reaction, according to a federal report released Friday.

The site, which handles some of the laboratory’s most sensitive nuclear missions — including production of plutonium pits, the grapefruit-sized plutonium metal shells used to trigger nuclear warheads — has been plagued for years with recurring safety issues.

According to reports publicly released Friday by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent advisory panel that reports to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, officials at the facility ordered a review of all procedures within the division that oversees plutonium pits and called for all of the work involving fissile materials to pause from March 23 to March 29.

Seven operations within the plutonium facility remained stalled as of March 30, the date of the panel’s most recent report. It was unclear Friday if the work had resumed.
us_NM  laboratory  follow-up  response  metals  radiation 
april 2018 by dchas
Bathroom sink overflow raises safety issue at LANL
SANTA FE – An overflowing bathroom sink has raised nuclear safety issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Water from the sink on the first floor of the lab’s Plutonium Facility recently leaked into a basement used to store drums of radioactive transuranic waste, according to a report by a federal oversight board.

The brief report by inspectors for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) said the leak raises issues about “nuclear criticality safety,” or the issue of preventing uncontrolled nuclear reactions.

The water didn’t cause any problems, according to the lab. But the DNFSB suggested it could be a warning about what could happen if more dangerous liquids were involved. On the first floor of the Plutonium Facility, the water reached “an area near the aqueous processing rooms,” said the DNFSB.
us_NM  laboratory  release  response  radiation  waste 
april 2018 by dchas
State cites half-dozen violations of LANL waste permit
Waste was stored inside a flammable cabinet, highly toxic materials were kept in a cardboard box labeled “non-hazardous,” and gallons of oxidizing liquids were stacked haphazardly atop flammable solids.

State inspectors reported these issues among a half-dozen violations of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s hazardous waste permit in November. Discovered during an unplanned compliance inspection, the problems did not prevent the lab from shipping mislabeled waste out of state just two days later.

Other problems cited in the inspection report were the lab failing to clean up oil leaking at a nonnuclear weapons testing area and mislabeling containers with highly acidic waste.

The New Mexico Environment Department said the issues were resolved by mid-February.

Matt Nerzig, the lab’s chief spokesman, said in a statement that overall, the annual state Resource Conservation and Recovery Act inspection showed improvement from past years, with fewer violations. “That said,” Nerzig added, “we continue to strive for the best possible compliance record, particularly when it comes to protecting the environment, the public and our workforce.”

While previous reports have listed a greater number of violations, the state inspections do not appear to prevent accidents or to provide a full picture of issues that may occur at the lab.

On Nov. 15, two days after state inspectors conducted the compliance inspection, two mislabeled containers of hazardous waste were shipped to a facility in Colorado, the third time in 13 months in which the lab had made errors in shipping waste to the facility. The incident prompted the lab to pause all shipments of hazardous and mixed, low-level radioactive waste for two and half months, which, in turn, led to some waste containers overstaying their allowed time on lab property. This violation could result in state fines of up to $1 million.
us_NM  laboratory  follow-up  environmental  flammables  radiation  waste 
april 2018 by dchas
Part of Highway 285 closed as result of fire at Artesia industrial park
Several law enforcement and emergency departments responded to a sulfur fire in Artesia's industrial park Wednesday afternoon, resulting in the closure of U.S. Highway 285 at Mill Road.

Jennifer Armendariz, emergency manager with Eddy County, said Tractor Supply was evacuated as a result of the fire.

Residents in the area, however, are safe in their homes, Armendariz said.

The fire began at a chemical company around 4:30 p.m. One person was treated for smoke inhalation, but no other injuries were reported.
us_NM  industrial  fire  response  sulphur 
april 2018 by dchas
LANL sent waste to wrong facility after mislabeling issue last November
Los Alamos National Laboratory last December paused all shipments of hazardous and mixed, low-level radioactive waste for nearly three months after lab officials realized they had transported the dangerous refuse with incorrect labels to a facility near Denver.

The labeling incident, which apparently occurred in November 2017, is the third time in 13 months that the Henderson, Colo., facility, Veolia ES Technical Solutions, received waste from Los Alamos with incorrect information about the chemicals inside — information that is used to ensure materials are handled and stored in a safe manner.

It also set into motion a series of events that could cause the lab to incur up to $1 million in state penalties.

“In November, we caught numbering errors on two hazardous waste drums that we self-reported,” lab spokesman Peter Hyde said in a phone call Monday. “In the interests of safety, we took the precautionary measure of pausing certain shipping until we were confident that we had fully addressed the issue. We are working closely with the state to evaluate our processes and procedures to make sure that our shipping program is in compliance with all regulations.”
us_NM  laboratory  follow-up  response  radiation  waste 
april 2018 by dchas
Worker Enters Room during Low Oxygen Alarm Activation
A worker responding to a low oxygen alarm found a pressure relief valve venting nitrogen into a room. He briefly entered the room, turned off the supply valve and then exited. The technical problem had been solved, however, the worker did not call Emergency Management and Response so personnel could ensure the safety of the area before entering. The primary purpose of the low oxygen alarm is to indicate that the atmosphere is likely oxygen deficient and that it may be unsafe for personnel to be in the area. Initial calculations after the incident indicate that the atmosphere did not pose the risk of a fatality; however, the employee did not know the exact conditions at the time he entered the room. When responding to alarms, it is important to pause and analyze the situation first. Mitigating the situation or condition in the heat of the moment without thoughtful consideration of hazards and work requirements can place workers at potential risk.
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us_NM  laboratory  release  response  nitrogen 
january 2018 by dchas
Feds dock LANL $2.6M for big lapses in 2017
Plutonium shipping errors in June and a potentially deadly worker safety lapse in September cost the operators of Los Alamos National Laboratory at least $2.6 million in performance award fees, according to an annual federal lab review released Friday.

Still, the lab earned about $47 million in bonuses for fiscal year 2017, 70 percent of its possible performance award from the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The award rate was 15 percent lower than the laboratory earned the previous fiscal year and the most significant deduction since 2014, when a transuranic waste drum from the lab ruptured inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, releasing radiation and causing a three-year shutdown of the storage site. That costly mishap contributed to a more than $18 million loss in award fees for Los Alamos National Security LLC, a private consortium that runs the lab.

Several safety lapses and worker injuries were reported at the lab last year, including a small fire that burned one worker, two radiation releases and the discovery of an excess amount of plutonium in one location, a violation of a safety program meant to prevent a runaway nuclear reaction. A damning report from an independent federal safety board in the fall also said the lab was not prepared to respond to an emergency.
us_NM  laboratory  follow-up  injury  radiation  waste 
january 2018 by dchas

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