Audit points to weaknesses in LANL oversight

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By Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Investigators are raising flags about weaknesses in the way federal officials keep track of deficiencies, concerns from employees and contractors and other problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The findings of the U.S. Department of Energy's inspector general were outlined in an audit released Thursday.

Investigators say the National Nuclear Security Administration's office that oversees operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory failed to put in place an effective management program that includes the tracking of actions taken to fix problems at the lab.

As a result, the auditors wrote, the risk increases that the field office "may not be identifying and resolving environment, safety and health issues in an effective and timely manner."

Critics say the findings are serious since the administration's field office serves as the primary check on the lab's safety and operational integrity.

"Several (Los Alamos lab) facilities operate with continuing safety violations of one kind or another that never seem get corrected if it is inconvenient — or expensive — to do so. These findings help explain why," said Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an anti-nuclear watchdog group.

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