The surprise hit film “Oppenheimer” has brought a lot of attention to the development of the atomic bomb, but for residents of Los Alamos, New Mexico, this period of history has always hit close to home.
It’s where testing during the top-secret Manhattan Project took place, ultimately leading to the creation of the very first nuclear warheads. Now there’s a related project underway there.
An ambitious program
The world is in a precarious place these days with nuclear threats from Russia, China, and North Korea pointing to the potential for a devastating war. In preparing for such an uncertain future, it’s vital for America’s nuclear arsenal to remain in proper working order, which requires a lot of upkeep and modernization.
Where better to take on that mission than in the birthplace of the atomic bomb?
Here’s a brief overview of what’s taking place at the Los Alamos National Laboratory:
- Almost 17,300 employees are currently working there.
- That number has increased by roughly 3,300 in just two years.
- Workers are part of a $750 billion nuclear overhaul program.
The town’s location and deeply engrained sense of secrecy surrounding nuclear weapons made it a perfect choice for this project, but there’s a downside.
A major interruption
Since most of the people working at the laboratory commute from other areas of New Mexico, the population of Los Alamos more than doubles during the workweek.
This has led to major concerns about the availability of housing, a huge spike in traffic, encroachment into neighboring forests and Native American land, and a host of other potential ramifications.
Nevertheless, in an area where many locals can trace their family tree back to those who were somehow involved in the Manhattan Project, keeping the U.S. nuclear defense system in operation is worth the sacrifice.