LANL Sponsors 18th Annual Hazmat Challenge

A hazardous materials team from Edmond, Okla., competing in the Hazmat Challenge at LANL. Courtesy/LANL

LANL News:

  • Competition tests skills of hazardous materials response teams from four states

Fourteen hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 18th annual Hazmat Challenge July 29 through Aug. 1 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“The challenge provides hazardous materials responders the opportunity to test their skills, share best practices with other response agencies, and learn new techniques through realistic hazardous materials release scenarios in a safe, non-hazardous environment,” said Chris Rittner of the Laboratory’s Security and Emergency Operations Division.

Held at Los Alamos’ Technical Area 49, the event requires participants to respond to simulated hazardous materials emergencies involving a rail car, a clandestine laboratory, various modes of transportation, industrial piping scenarios, a simulated radiological release and a confined space event.

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 as a way to hone the skills of its own hazmat team members. The event now offers a training opportunity in a competitive format that is open to all hazardous materials response teams in New Mexico and across the nation. The winning team receives a “traveling trophy” and top scoring teams in the technical and overall categories are awarded permanent trophies. Funding for New Mexico teams is provided through federal grants via the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (NMDHSEM).

A video about the 2008 and 2012 Hazmat challenges is on the Laboratory’s website and on the Lab’s YouTube channel.

For more information on this year’s challenge, contact Chris Rittner ( or Carmela Rodriguez (


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