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National safety board comes to town

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By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory can expect another visit soon from the safety board. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) will hold a public hearing in Los Alamos Dec. 5.The federal safety board, empowered to make recommendations to the secretaries of defense and energy, has decided to follow up on a hearing last March in Washington, D.C., with a meeting in Los Alamos. According to a recent announcement in the Federal Register, the meeting will focus on a broad range of suggestions the board made in a letter to National Nuclear Security Administration in February.“We’re going to ask them how they believe they’ve been doing from a nuclear safety point of view and discuss with them the current nuclear safety items of interest,” said A. J. Eggenberger, DNFSB chairman, in a telephone interview Tuesday.The questions will be directed to senior officials of Los Alamos National Security and the NNSA.Recent site reports from Los Alamos have emphasized issues and concerns at the main plutonium facility, PF-4 in Technical Area 55 and transuranic waste removal operations to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad.In a letter on Oct. 16, the board said it had become “increasingly concerned in the overall lack of progress with respect to safety improvements at LANL.