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UPDATE: LANL, Sandia both facing DOE penalties

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By Associated Press

Two nuclear laboratories in New Mexico are facing hefty fines for the faulty handling of classified information or material.

The federal Department of Energy has fined Sandia Corp. $577,500 for violation of control of nuclear weapons data, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Los Alamos National Laboratory is also facing fines for two separate incidents.

Sandia Corp. is a Lockheed Martin company that serves as the private operator of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

Sandia presented information at improper lab settings and to the public over many years, according to a preliminary notice of violation issued by the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration last week.

The company was cited for four Level 1 violations and two lesser ones. The Level 1 errors are said to cause a higher national security risk.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory, the private contractor Los Alamos National Security LLC faces a $247,500 fine for loss of classified material and a $150,000 fine for exposure of workers to a hazardous material.

In Sandia's case, the violations notice says that the public release of classified information goes as far back as 2003. The DOE says a supervisor there discovered in 2012 that an employee had presented the information in unclassified settings at Sandia and at least three times to the public.

The presentation was also uploaded to a shared server, and hard-copy or electronic copies were given out in some instances.

"Due to Sandia's failure to identify and remove all the classified information contained in the presentation and video, it remained stored and unprotected on this unclassified shared server for over eight years," said the DOE notice.

Foreign nationals had access to the information during that time.

Sandia sanitized the network when it discovered the breach in 2012, but DOE says the lab did not act quickly to search for other security lapses to determine the extent of the problem.

"Sandia has taken this security issue seriously since becoming aware of it in 2012," Jim Danneskiold, a spokesman for Sandia, said in a statement.

"After discovering and reporting the issue, Sandia analyzed the causes and identified, developed and carried out a series of improvements that will reduce the likelihood of security violations of this kind."

In Los Alamos, the DOE levied two Level 1 violations against LANS, a consortium that includes Bechtel Corp. and the University of California. The agency says there were problems with the documentation of a secret weapons item that had supposedly been shipped from Los Alamos to the Nevada national Security Site in 2007.

NNSA said the item was never actually shipped. DOE says in the violations notice that there was a "loss of control" of the item, and that classified information could have been compromised.

A Los Alamos lab spokesman said Monday that the lab "takes safety and security very seriously and fully cooperates" with investigations. "We are currently evaluating the Preliminary Notice of Violation to formulate our response," the statement said.

The other fine against LANS is for a 2013 event in which five Los Alamos workers were exposed to chlorine. The DOE described the situation as "of high safety significance."