Monday, December 23, 2013

Los Alamos National Laboratory Internship

Hello ENVS Real Life Blogging World!
My name is Marina Meneakis and I am currently a Senior at WSCU majoring in ENVS with a water emphasis and minoring in Biology. In order to fulfill my Environment and Sustainability Internship, I chose to reach out and use my current internship with Los Alamos National Laboratories. I started my career with them in June of 2009 between my junior and senior year of high school and have been fortunate enough to stay with them and utilize this opportunity. Because of the unique circumstances of how I have to complete my internship in a different location and over different periods of time, I am only writing one blog for the week of Thanksgiving break when I completed my first credit of three for the internship. As I complete the following two credits over Winter break, I will be posting more. So lets begin....
Located in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) is historically known for their nuclear weapon development and production for WWII. More specifically, the construction of both nuclear bombs Fat Man and Little Boy. Now, I know what your thinking. How is it that LANL qualifies for a Environment and Sustainability Internship? Well, just like many other things that require clean up after production, LANL has some cleaning up to do. The waste that was generated from creating Fat Man and Little Boy alone was enough to have detrimental impacts on the environment and yet the laboratories continued to produce them throughout the years and still are today. Somewhere along that road, they realized the impacts they were having on the environment and began to make chances by creating the Associate Directorate of Environmental Programs or ADEP. As a member of ADEP's team, our mission is to clean up and protect legacy waste sites in northern New Mexico, process and ship hazardous waste materials to disposal facilities, and monitor both ground and surface water to maintain controls. The organization that I work with under the directorate, Engineering and Technology Environmental Investigations (ET-EI), provides support in the areas of environmental investigation and remediation by monitoring, collecting, and analyzing stormwater
During my work over Thanksgiving break, I completed two objectives within the work place. The first was field work where myself and one other visited our sampling locations from the summer to retrieve automated water samplers. In our case, we were decommissioning Global Water Samplers for the winter and bringing them into the Stormwater Laboratory for cleaning and preparation for the next monitoring season. Field work at the Laboratories consists of proper training (for physical conduction of the work and for the vehicles used in the field), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and work orders. Work orders are the paper work aspect of the field basically recording conditions of the station and equipment upon arrival and departure along with a "to-do" list of tasks needed to be performed while visiting each location. The second objective I needed to complete was analyzing precipitation data from 2008 forward and calculating the 30 minute maximum intensities for each storm event within those dates. Using radio telemetry, I pulled 5 minute and 15 minute raw data from roughly 30 different gage stations and meteorological towers into Excel to organize and filter the data to show only the rain events that triggered sufficient storms. Then, I went through and analyzed each individual storm calculating total precip, 30 minute maximum intensities, and duration. All in all, the experience was very educational teaching me about federal government protocol, field work, and the many ways that precipitation data is utilized.
Until next time.....