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Project on Government Oversight

Security Failure at Los Alamos National Laboratory Puts Nuclear Materials at Risk

Statement of Peter Stockton, Senior Investigator,
Project On Government Oversight

The Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor and the Albuquerque Journal are reporting that a new and expensive security system at the Los Alamos National Laboratory simply does not work. In response, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is demanding that the contractor at the New Mexico lab fully disclose all of the project’s problems and show that the nuclear materials stored at the facility are safe.

We commend the NNSA for holding its contractor accountable. Apparently, the NNSA had warned the contractor, Los Alamos National Security, as early as 2010 that the security project was likely to be completed late and over budget. The apparent incompetence of the contractors is appalling. Still, we’re concerned that the NNSA didn’t exercise enough oversight along the way. How did the project get this far and this over-budget when the NNSA has an office on site at Los Alamos that is supposed to be overseeing the contractor?

Security issues in the nuclear weapons complex are getting out of hand. First you have an 82-year-old nun breaching security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oakridge, Tenn. Now, a security upgrade at Los Alamos is so botched that it may require Congress to rescue it with up to $25 million in emergency funding.

The previous head of NNSA, Linton Brooks, stepped down after a series of embarrassing security breaches, as POGO reported in 2007. How many strikes does Tom D’Agostino, current head of the NNSA, get before he’s called out and fired?

Founded in 1981, 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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