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It’s closing in on a year that the Los Alamos National Laboratory paused full-time operations at its Plutonium Facility.
LANL director Charlie McMillan stopped operations to address nuclear criticality safety concerns back in June of last year.
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board remains concerned and it wants the lab to take more time to address the criticality issues.
DNFSB chair Peter Winokur wrote a letter to NNSA administrator Frank Klotz May 16, addressing the concerns.
“During this pause, NNSA briefed the Board on a strategy to develop criticality safety evaluations (CSE) for higher-risk operations prior to resumption. The Board is aware that this plan has evolved such that the LANL Director intends to resume many higher-risk operations without first developing compliant CSEs.
“Department of Energy directives and industry consensus standards require that CSEs unambiguously demonstrate how fissionable material operations will remain subcritical under both normal and credible abnormal conditions. These CSEs identify controls to ensure safe operation.
“Therefore,, the Board requests a briefing from NNSA within 14 days on how the NNSA will ensure that adequate controls will be identified as the laboratory resumes higher-risk operations in the Plutonium Facility.”
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