LANL eludes fine in beryllium incident

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DOE > Prompt action in response cited in letter

By The Staff

The Los Alamos National Laboratory will not be fined after a lab machinist was exposed to higher-than-allowed levels of beryllium. That news comes from a May 29 letter addressed to LANL Director Charlie McMillan from the Department of Energy’s Office of Enforcement and Oversight.

The letter stated that the ignored procedures for collecting and controlling personal exposure assessment air samples and didn’t keep accurate hazard assessment and exposure control records when an employee was exposed to more than 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of beryllium during an eight-hour shift, exceeding DOE’s “action” level.

The letter from Office of Enforcement and Oversight Director John Boulden stated, “the facts and circumstances indicate weaknesses in LANS’ collection and documentation of industrial hygiene exposure assessment information and the application of that information to anticipate, identify, evaluate, and control beryllium hazards. These weaknesses may prevent LANS from establishing a definitive cause for an event and identifying appropriate corrective actions when occupational exposure limits are exceeded.