Nuke Lab Worker Burned in Incident

Friday, May 8, 2015 @ 11:05 AM gHale


A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker remains in critical condition after suffering burns in an accident that also sent eight other workers at the nuclear weapons research facility to the hospital.

The accident happened Sunday while the employees were doing preventative maintenance at an electrical substation that provides power to the lab’s Neutron Science Center, said Lab spokesman Kevin Roark.

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It was not immediately clear what happened, but Roark said an accident investigation board will review the incident. He did not identify the name of the badly burned worker.

Lab Director Charlie McMillian said the worker’s family had the support and sympathy of the entire workforce at the lab.

“Nothing is more important at this time than his well-being,” McMillian said.

Nine workers went to the Los Alamos Medical Center and seven ended up treated and released the same day, said medical center spokeswoman Mary Beth Maasan.

One patient went to the burn unit at University of New Mexico Hospital and another ended up admitted to the Los Alamos Medical Center in stable condition, she said.

A memo sent to lab employees stated that portions of the Neutron Science Center are without power and employees should work at home or contact their supervisors regarding their plans.

Built in the late 1960s, the Neutron Science Center contains a linear accelerator used for everything from national security-related projects to health and materials science.

The center ended up cited in several federal safety audits, including for a 2012 incident in which a worker unknowingly opened a canister containing uncontrolled radioactive material.

Operations there ended up shut down in early 1999 after a series of safety accidents.

Roark said the electrical substation where Sunday’s accident happened is adjacent to the center and the accelerator facility was not a part of the incident.



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