Security fix now at $41M

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Lab: McMillan says project remains suspended

By John Severance

The news just got worse concerning the $213 million project to enhance security at Technical Area 55.

It was supposed to be completed in June, but two weeks ago, it was announced it would cost an additional $21 million to $25 million.

According to an internal memo from Lab Director Charlie McMillan, the project is going to be even more expensive. The fixes for an upgraded security system are now going to cost $41 million.

“We have delivered a revised cost estimate for the project to NNSA. We believe the total project costs will rise from approximately $213 million to approximately $254 million,” McMillan wrote. “Because we are not authorized to make this type of change in funding, the project remains in suspended status until Congress or NNSA directs us otherwise.”

McMillan also appointed a committee to oversee the project.

McMillan said that Tyrone “Ty” Troutman will be the Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project manager. Troutman was the construction functional manager for Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure and will report directly to McMillan.

Others on the committee are Jimmie L. Willman, who will manage procurement activities and Toby Wilson, who currently manages Project Controls for LANL’s Environmental Programs directorate.

“Let me again stress to you that nuclear material at TA-55 remains safe and protected, just as it has during NMSSUP construction.  I am convinced that, once complete, NMSSUP will give TA-55 the modern, reliable, perimeter security system it needs,” McMillan wrote.

“Performance on this project has been unacceptable to me, the LANS Board of Governors, and our customer. This has damaged the laboratory’s credibility. We must do better. As we learn more about the breakdowns that occurred, we will share lessons learned.”

An internal NNSA summary said in order to pay for the cost overruns on the project one of the options was to slash the management fee paid to LANS. Last year, that fee was $76 million.

Another option to pay for the cost overruns was that the NNSA notified Congress this week that an emergency reprogramming of funds would be needed to protect the project.

Last month, the NNSA submitted a $120 million request to reprogram funds as a result of the deferral of the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.

According to the NNSA website, the primary components of the project include a Perimeter Intrusion Detection, Assessment, and Delay System, an East Vehicle and Pedestrian Entry Control Facility, Utility Infrastructure, and West Vehicle Access port.

Nuclear Weapons and Materials News reported Thursday that fiber optic cable was incorrectly installed which led to some major cost overruns.

The trade publication reported that the fiber optic cables were supposed to be physically separated, but were instead routed together, impacting several key security systems related to the upgrade project. The other issues concerned the perimeter lighting system and a perimeter denial system.

 “The performance on this project has been unacceptable and we will hold LANS fully accountable for all costs,” NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha said in a statement. “We take our responsibility to protect taxpayer dollars seriously, and we will use all the tools available to correct the situation. As always, protection of Category 1 material is our top priority, and we will ensure that the project is completed while maintaining full compliance with all protection requirements.”