Historical Society Dives Into LANL’s Infamous Kitty Litter Drum

Vincent Lalenti


The next lecture in the Los Alamos Historical Society’s series will feature Vincent Lalenti who will present “Waste Makes Haste: An Anthropologist’s View of the 2014 LANL-WIPP Organic Kitty Litter Accident.”

Lalenti will begin his talk at 7 p.m., Nov. 13 in Fuller Lodge. This talk explores political, social, and financial factors that contributed to LANL’s transuranic waste drum #68660 bursting open and spewing out fire underground at the WIPP deep geologic repository on Valentine’s Day 2014.

To what extent was this infamous “organic kitty litter” accident symptomatic of the hasty tempos of the DOE’s, LANL’s, and the State of New Mexico’s 3706 accelerated waste shipment campaign? An anthropologist who spent 10 weeks doing fieldwork in Los Alamos and Carlsbad—logging more than 45 interviews about the accident—will discuss his findings so far.

Lalenti is a MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellow at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University and an MSc in Law, Anthropology, and Society from the London School of Economics.

Lalenti has been a U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Mellon Fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities. He has written articles for Physics Today, NPR, Forbes, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and other outlets.