LANL Hazmat Challenge Offered Complicated Seismic Scenarios At Emergency Response Training Center

IMG_3849.jpgOne of the scenarios at the 23rd Hazmat Challenge at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week involved an tanker leaking an unknown material. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3850 (1).jpgFirefighters work on one of several ‘scenes’ set up for Tuesday for Hazmat Challenge participants. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3851 (1).jpgMembers of a Hazmat Challenge team prepare to address liquid leaking from a tanker truck Tuesday at one of the scenes for the competition. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3853.jpgA realistic scene as a team participates in the Hazmat Challenge Tuesday at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.

IMG_3867 (1).jpgThe Hazmat Challenge included a scenario where an earthquake knocked bleach, ammonia and other items from shelves in a ‘store’. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3860.jpgA scene from a ‘hotel’ room scenario at the Hazmat  Challenge where competitors were presented with a ‘biohazard’ situation where bats were supposedly being used to collect rabies. The scenario was set up in a tranportainer containing several rooms set up very realistically as a hotel complete with appropriate  furniture and a lobby. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3862 (2).jpgPlastic rats somehow looked very realistic in a scenario at the Hazmat Challenge at Los Alamos National Laboratory Tuesday. As part of the challenge, competitors simulated taking samples from the bats and the rats for forensics and then decontaminated the areas where the bats and the rats were to make sure it was safe for others to enter the area and finish cleaning up. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3880 (2).jpgLos Alamos Fire Chief Troy Hughes, far left, and other LAFD personnel walk towards shelter Tuesday afternoon when the Hazmat Challenge was temporarily halted due to lightning in the area. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3855 (1).jpgMembers of a Hazmat Challenge team prepare to enter a ‘hotel’ Tuesday afternoon at the LANL Emergency Response Training Center. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_3858.jpgHazmat team members competing in the 35th Los Alamos National Laboratory Hazmat Challenge this week at the LANL Emergency Response Training Center examine items in a ‘hotel room’ where ‘biological hazards’ were located while responding to an earthquake scenario. Seismic events were the theme for this year’s Challenge. Photo by Maire O’Neill/



Ten hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee are testing their skills in a series of graded exercises this week at the 35th Los Alamos National Laboratory Hazmat Challenge which is being held at the Emergency Response Training center.

The Los Alamos Reporter visited the Challenge Tuesday afternoon and watched teams run through several scenarios presented to them for the Challenge.

Held at the LANL Emergency Response Training Center, 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 are 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.