A report issued Wednesday by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Energy squarely places blame for the shutdown of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository on failures at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The inspector general's office identified several major weaknesses in the lab's procedures for packing contaminated gloves, tools and other radiological wastes that were destined for permanent storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.
Not all of the lab's procedures were properly vetted and some procedures didn't conform with environmental requirements, according to the findings.
The report reinforces the findings of internal reviews done by the lab and the Energy Department following a Feb. 14 release of radiation from a barrel of waste that came from Los Alamos. The release contaminated 22 workers and forced the indefinite closure of the nuclear waste repository.
"Our review identified several major deficiencies in LANL's procedures for the development and approval of waste packaging and remediation techniques that may have contributed to the radiological event," the inspector general said.