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Project on Government Oversight

POGO Asks DOE to Issue Stop Work Order For Los Alamos Facility: CMRR of Dubious Value and Questionable Construction

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December 3, 2007

The Project On Government Oversight has called for an immediate stop work order in a letter to Under Secretary for Nuclear Security & Administrator for National Nuclear Safety Administration Tom D’Agostino on the Chemical and Metallurgical Research Replacement (CMRR) program.

POGO has learned that Austin Commercial of Dallas, TX, the contractor hired for building the first stage of the CMRR, is not building the facility to ASME NQA-1 Quality Assurance (QA) standards for nuclear facilities, nor to other DOE QA requirements. There are also allegations that the new facility is not being built to recently increased earthquake standards. 

Austin Commercial, which appears to have little, if any, previous experience in building a nuclear facility, is allegedly demanding an increase in their fixed fee from $10 million to $30 million if they are expected to meet these QA standards, and are even threatening taking Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to court. The big question is whether or not the Los Alamos National Laboratory spelled out these requirements in the contract.

Danielle Brian , Executive Director of POGO said, “The Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) has done nothing to stop this potential train wreck. This latest debacle is in keeping with LASO’s long history of a hands-off approach to oversight, largely because of their policy of allowing the Lab to police itself.”

Ms. Brian concluded her letter to Mr. D’Agostino, “History tells us that DOE’s tendency is to quickly begin construction in order to make it that much harder for the Congress to kill the project.  On the current path, it would seem the taxpayers will end up with a poorly constructed facility of dubious value.  Please issue an immediate stop-work order to ensure we do not suffer that fate.”

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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