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Anxiety, Fire and Radioactive Waste

anxiety and fireMany of our readers know that we live in New Mexico. Once again, fires in New Mexico are devastating our beautiful forests and tragically, quite a few homes. What seems astounding to us as our eyes water, noses drip, and we watch what are usually blue skies fill with smoke, is that this natural disaster is once more threatening the homes of those in Los Alamos and our National Labs. More than 12,000 people have been evacuated with no end in sight.

Just about ten years ago a similar fire threatened the Labs and burned over 400 home in Los Alamos. Surely, that fire should have provided ample warning to prepare for another such eventuality.  It’s utterly outrageous that this is happening again. Although local officials reassure residents, it seems odd that thousands of barrels of nuclear waste sit relatively unprotected. Some experts worry that these barrels could explode like popped corn, releasing radioactive toxins to the blowing wind. Oh yeah, and it only takes an incredibly small particle of this lethal material to cause lung cancer. Furthermore, New Mexico is well known for its winds—especially this year.

Okay, we’re not usually paranoid or overly suspicious of government officials. Most likely, those radioactive containers are not going to boil over and spew out their contents. The city and fire department of Los Alamos certainly are doing the best they can. But, the point is this:  how can we spend billions of dollars overseas on wars that have no end in sight, on heavy equipment that is blown up by insurgents, and not be able to protect the people and land of New Mexico? Wouldn’t you think the Air Force has enough planes to drop enough water on this fire to at least protect the labs and homes?

Then again, we’re not even getting into the problems at the nuclear power plants that stand next to flooding rivers. You’d think Japan’s tragedy would have warned us sufficiently to make greater preparations for this possibility as well.

But bringing all of this back to a personal level, most of us can’t really tell officials what to do and how to do it. So, what if you were told you must leave your home. Right now. Possibly forever. What would you take with you? It could happen anywhere, anytime. Think about what is important. Be ready, just in case.

Photo by Daniel R. Blume, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Anxiety, Fire and Radioactive Waste

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

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APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Anxiety, Fire and Radioactive Waste. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from


Last updated: 30 Jun 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jun 2011
Published on All rights reserved.