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Gold theft investigation at LANL nearly complete

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By Carol A. Clark

The Investigation into an attempted gold theft that occurred in late March at Los Alamos National Laboratory's TA-55 is close to wrapping up.

“We expect the investigation to conclude most likely by the end of the month, at which time it will be referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque for a decision on whether to prosecute,” FBI Agent Todd Hulsey said Thursday.

Hulsey mentioned it appears the employee acted alone in his attempt to steal gold from his workplace at TA-55.

He was discovered attempting to exit his area with an estimated $2,000 worth of gold shavings inside a plastic sandwich bag hidden in his clutched fist.

In his attempt to smuggle out the gold, the employee triggered the first of eight layers of security mechanisms and was stopped dead in his tracks inside the Plutonium Processing Facility.

The man has reportedly worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for more than 20 years.

“The individual is no longer employed at the laboratory,” said Public Affairs Director Jeff Berger in a recent interview.

Laboratory personnel conducted an inventory following the incident to determine if anything else was missing.

“The inventories have been completed without issue,” Berger said.

The name of the individual will be released if the U.S. Attorney’s Office determines sufficient evidence exists to call for his arrest.

The gold shavings seal cracks in platinum-lined containers used for plutonium-related work, according to information relayed to the Monitor.

The Plutonium Facility Site at TA-55 is located on 40 acres about one mile southeast of the central technical area at TA-3, according to information on the Los Alamos Study Group website.

The main complex has five connected buildings: the Administration, the Support Office Building, the Support Building, the Plutonium Facility and the Warehouse.

The Nuclear Materials Storage Facility is separate from the main complex but shares an underground transfer tunnel with the Plutonium Facility.

Various support, storage, security and training structures are located throughout the main complex.