From Our Laboratory Director
Message from Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan
In this month’s edition of Connections, I would like to introduce myself to you as the Laboratory’s new director. I have thoughts and ideas I want share with you as I undertake my new job, but at this time I’d like to focus on our recent experiences with the Las Conchas Fire.
When I was appointed, I said my three top priorities for the Lab were Science, Team, and Innovation. It turns out, all three came into focus during the fire.
It saddens me to look at the damaged hillsides. I have hiked in those places. They’re just a few minutes from my home. But I also feel proud and grateful. I’m proud of the teams that helped protect the Lab and the community during the fire. I speak not only of the trained firefighters, security professionals, and the teams who managed the immediate crisis, but of those who worked over the years to mitigate fire dangers following the Cerro Grande Fire and thus virtually eliminated this fire’s encroachment on Lab property.
We used the Lab’s world-class scientific resources to quickly shut down hundreds of experiments in an orderly fashion, analyze and distribute air monitoring data, and provide aerial reconnaissance photos to monitor damage.
It also took quick thinking and innovation to pull together project teams to rapidly respond to developing situations during the fire.
I’m grateful for the outpouring of support we received from neighbors like you. Shelters for displaced Los Alamos residents and LANL employees were provided by the pueblos of Santa Clara and Pojoaque and citizens throughout the region; additional emergency management assets from federal, tribal, state, and local sources bolstered the efforts of our own professionals; and generous donations of other resources made a huge difference in the lives of so many others.
The fire affected areas far beyond Los Alamos and the Laboratory. Some of our employees lost their homes, and many of our neighbors experienced damage to precious land and traditional livelihoods.
As the Lab resumes its work for the nation, we’re identifying specific things LANL can do to help our people, governments, businesses, and environment recover. Some of that work includes helping to understand and mitigate environmental impacts resulting from the fire, such as the increased potential for flooding. Many of our employees have volunteered to help regional recovery efforts, and we’re partnering with a wide range of financial and economic development organizations to leverage recovery resources.
Together, we’ll work our way through these trying times and build an even stronger community.