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Federal officials say the problem-plagued $244 million security system to protect the most sensitive areas at Los Alamos National Laboratory is finally complete.
The advanced security upgrade for the lab’s plutonium complex was supposed to be done almost two years ago at a cost of $213 million. But as it was nearing completion officials acknowledged there were major problems, and said they needed an additional $41 million to fix it.
The NNSA and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, paid $10 million to reimburse the government to fix some of the problems.
The National Nuclear Security Administration said Thursday the system was ultimately completed for $244 million.
The modern system protects what is known as Technical Area 55, the only place in the country where nuclear weapon triggers can be made. The area is one of the most sensitive at Los Alamos and includes a cement, bunker-like complex that houses two aging labs where most of the work with dangerous plutonium is done.
NNSA, meanwhile, hailed the completion of the project in a press release Thursday.
“The security of our nation’s nuclear material is our most important responsibility,” said NNSA Acting Chief of Defense Nuclear Security Michael Lempke. “In accordance with the Secretary’s vision, NNSA leadership is focused on instilling a culture that embraces security as an essential element of the NNSA mission.”
Bob Raines, NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management, said success was all about detail and goal-setting.
“By delivering NMSSUP under budget, the NNSA and the NMSSUP Project team demonstrated the importance of responsibility and accountability,” Raines said. “Through focused attention to detail, and top to bottom leadership involvement, even a troubled project can be righted when clear expectations are set and all parties accept accountability for their role in project delivery.”
LANL’s acting deputy director Paul Henry was glad to hear the news.
“The laboratory looks forward to the increased capability and strengthened security envelope that the perimeter upgrade project delivers,” Henry said. “We could not be more proud of our Protective Force personnel who kept the facility secure without incident throughout the perimeter upgrade project.”