The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that oversees the nation’s nuclear facilities, is cutting Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management team’s potential “award fees” for 2014 by 90 percent. That management team, Los Alamos National Security (LANS), whose main partners are the University of California and Bechtel Corporation, was also denied a previous “pro forma” one year contract extension.
According to a press release from Nuclear Watch New Mexico, “This is more fallout from WIPP. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) used unapproved radioactive waste treatment procedures that resulted in a ruptured drum at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, contaminating 21 workers and indefinitely closing that multi-billion dollar facility. It will cost an estimated half-billion dollars to reopen WIPP, which will likely double. Additionally, the New Mexico Environment Department has proposed $54 million in fines against LANL and WIPP, and Congress has cut $40 million from cleanup programs at the Lab, while adding $100 million to help reopen WIPP.”
As all of us who watchdog and report on LANL know, this latest egregious accident at WIPP is only one of the Lab’s many failures under LANS management. The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility, where plutonium pits, the cores of nuclear weapons, were supposed to be built, got put on “indefinite hold” because of enormous cost overruns. Whistleblowers and former employees have documented numerous safety violations, labor and civil rights disputes, security breaches, failure to meet cleanup requirements, and retaliations. At the very least, the LANS contract should be rescinded and LANL management be put out to bid.
For a PDF version of Nuclear Watch’s press release click here.
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