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'I have no idea why they have a gun like this,' watchdog investigator says
Researchers at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory in New Mexico accidentally blew up a building with a "Civil-war-like" cannon earlier this month, raising further fears about the safety of the facility that has seen more than its share of security breaches in recent years.
According to an "occurrence report" (PDF) filed by the lab and obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, the accident took place on December 16 as researchers tested a gun that "acts like a Civil War cannon," according to a POGO pr
UPDATE: “Despite claims to the contrary, the only thing ‘demolished’ in this case was POGO’s credibility. No building at Los Alamos was destroyed in this incident and any suggestion otherwise is the sort of irresponsible hyperbole we’ve come to expect from this group,” National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Damien LaVera e-mails Danger Room.
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.”