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Los Alamos Safety Down the Tubes

Though Los Alamos county in New Mexico has the highest per capita concentration of PhDs in the nation, truly stupid moves are often made by the Lab's management, which anchors the surrounding community, and by the Energy Department which owns it. The latest regression deals with castration of Los Alamos National Laboratory's safety oversight.

It's been gutted by moving outside, at least somewhat independent safety oversight from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the part of DOE that manages the nuclear weapons complex, to the Lab--so that it now oversees itself. And Los Alamos safety will be also weakened because of retaliation against one of its finest, safety official Christopher Steele, who was moved into a national safety training position because of his whistleblowing.

This information was revealed in our_press_release today which leads with the University of California exempt from paying a $1.1 million fine--which would have been "the largest civil penalty ever" issued under the Energy Department's nuclear enforcement program. UC has been exempt from paying fines for violations because of its non-profit status, which we have argued has removed an incentive for the behemoth University system to better manage the Lab. However, with UC now partnered with the for-profit Bechtel corporation to manage Los Alamos, the Lab will have to pay fines for future violations.

By: Nick Schwellenbach
Director of Investigations, POGO

Nick Schwellenbach At the time of publication, Nick Schwellenbach was Director of Investigations for the Project On Government Oversight.

Authors: Nick Schwellenbach

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