Scene from a previous LANL Hazmat Challenge in which members of the Midwest City, Okla., Fire Department use sandbags to stop simulated radioactive liquid waste from a spill from flowing downstream. Courtesy/LANL
Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee will test their skills in a series of graded exercises Aug. 19-23 at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Hazmat Challenge.
“The Challenge provides a unique training venue for hazmat responders where they are able to test and develop their technical response capabilities in a difficult but safe environment,” said Jeff Dare, group leader for Emergency Response at LANL. “Recent upgrades to our Emergency Response Training Center have allowed us to create the most challenging scenarios yet.”
Held at Los Alamos, the event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous-materials emergencies involving aircraft, rail and highway transportation, industrial piping, a biological lab, a confined space event, and more. The finale of the Hazmat Challenge is a skills-based obstacle course. Teams are graded and earn points based on their ability to perform response skills through a 10-station obstacle course while using fully encapsulating personal protective equipment.
The Laboratory began the Hazmat Challenge in 1996 to hone the skills of its own hazmat team members. The event is now a comprehensive training opportunity in a competitive format that is open to all hazardous materials response teams across the nation. The winning team receives a traveling trophy and top-scoring teams in the technical categories are awarded permanent trophies. Separate trophies will be awarded to the three top scoring teams in the obstacle course event.
Funding for New Mexico teams is provided through federal grants through the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and The Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.