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Byline: Lawrence Spohn LSPOHN@ABQTRIB.COM / 823-3611
HYPE OR REALITY, WHO IS READY ?
At the nation's premier nuclear-weapons laboratory, loss of power because of a Y2K computer glitch on New Year's Day is not an option.
Or on any other day, for that matter.
So Los Alamos National Laboratory officials are going to extreme lengths to make sure the lab's national security operations from controlling access to the nation's nuclear secrets to preventing any release of radioactivity are fully energized and functional.
Diane Weir, the lab's Y2K manager, says the one absolute is "we cannot be without power."
"I don't believe we can shut everything down," she said. "We need it to operate a variety of systems that are critical to our mission."
Weir said the lab's contingency plans include backup generators and firing up a 1950s-vintage power plant in December to ensure that essential lab systems remain functioning.
The lab, which more than 50 years ago ushered in the nuclear age by developing and testing the first atomic bomb, remains the nation's lead nuclear weapons lab with responsibility for most of the warheads in the U.S. arsenal.
Los Alamos is one of two national laboratories in New Mexico Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque is the other to anchor a major federal government presence in the state and an infusion of federal dollars.
It's an investment that is being protected by extensive Y2K assessments, remediation programs and backup contingency plans.
Also at risk from Y2K in New Mexico are two other Air Force bases, Holloman and Cannon, the Army's White Sands Missile Range, and major portions of a third …