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Here are the facts: On December 16, Los Alamos conducted a standard proof test on a new design for a catch tank in the target chamber for one of our large bore powder guns (LBPG). These types of experiments are routine and responsible. The LBPG is used to conduct measurements of material properties at pressures needed for understanding nuclear weapons performance. During this particular test, unexpected explosive damage occurred and, because that damage could result in $1 million in damages, an investigation was automatically triggered. That investigation will seek to identify the cause of the incident and any changes in procedures that might be required. NNSA, Los Alamos, and all of our facilities take their commitment to safety very seriously. It is important to note that no personnel were injured from this event, no hazardous or radioactive materials were involved, and that lab’s incident response mechanisms appear to have performed as intended.”
The Facility Operations Director "declared a management concern due to the significant facility structural damage incurred resultant of the shot." Parts of the cannon were found outside the building.
"I must say that this is a new twist in the long history of screw-ups by Los Alamos," said POGO's Senior Investigator, Peter Stockton. “I have no idea in the world why they have a gun like this, let alone testing it.”