Lab flirts with another closure

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Statement acknowledges increase in safety issues

By Roger Snodgrass

A recent rash of safety issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory reminded federal officials of events leading up to the laboratory shutdown in 2004. Their concerns were expressed in another stern memo to Los Alamos National Laboratory managers that came to light Thursday.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is concerned about recent safety incidents…” the Jan. 20 memorandum begins, noting that “the events are similar to each other and to prior events, indicating that prior corrective actions have not been fully effective or degraded with time.”

The memorandum raises an old question, going back more than

10 years, about whether there has been sufficient focus and follow-through to prevent even worse consequences, “up to and including serious injuries or fatalities.”

A prepared statement from the laboratory acknowledged the authenticity of the memorandum.

“The memo from the NNSA Los Alamos Site Office raised some concerns and requested a plan of action from the lab,” according to the laboratory statement Thursday.  “The lab has responded and outlined the improvements it has made and intends to make.  We are working together to ensure lab operations are as safe as they can be.”

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