Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Los Alamos Gets 'Inadequate' Safety Rating from Energy Dept. Los Alamos Gets 'Inadequate' Safety Rating from Energy Dept.

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Global Security Newswire

Los Alamos Gets 'Inadequate' Safety Rating from Energy Dept.

A Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board engineer places uranium hemi-shell training models on a moveable platform in preparation for an experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The Energy Department gave the laboratory a high rating for its nuclear criticality safety performance last year.(Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory photo)

The Energy Department has given a key weapons lab an "inadequate" rating for its latest safety record on "nuclear criticality," a measure of atomic stability.

Los Alamos National Laboratory received the weakest nuclear criticality safety rating of all U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories, though its performance is assessed to be getting better, according to a report released last week covering fiscal 2013. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman submitted the assessment to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

Nuclear criticality typically refers to a balance of neutrons in a reactor, with "subcriticality" suggesting underproduction and "supercriticality" suggesting overproduction. Nuclear criticality safety is the practice of preventing atomic chain reactions from taking place in fissile materials outside of reactors.

 

The Los Alamos facility in New Mexico had 38 nuclear criticality safety infractions in the last fiscal year and received an overall performance rating of "does not meet expectations."

"Operations in the main plutonium facility at LANL were paused in June 2013," the 75-page annual report states. "Resumption from the pause will occur on an operation-by-operation basis once the associated procedures are validated from a conduct of operations perspective, criticality controls are verified to be adequate and flowed into procedures, and operators trained."

The National Nuclear Security Administration "in general" has had "difficulty hiring and retaining qualified criticality safety staff," with Los Alamos and the Y-12 National Security Site experiencing more difficulties in that arena than other weapon sites, according to the report. The Y-12 complex, located in Tennessee, received an "adequate" performance rating, even though it had 71 infractions.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California had the highest rating of any of the sites. The California complex's overall safety performance was judged "excellent," with only one criticality safety infraction occurring in the last fiscal year.

The Nevada National Security Site's overall performance was described as "adequate, but does not fully meet requirements," though it recorded just one minor infraction. Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico was given a safety rating of "adequate," with no infractions reported since fiscal 2009. Meantime, the Pantex Plant in Texas also was given an "adequate" safety grade, with no infractions reported in more than 20 years.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Job Board
Search Jobs
Digital and Content Manager, E4C
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
PRODUCT REVIEW ENGINEER
American Society of Civil Engineers | CA
Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Bellevue, WA
United Technologies Research Fellow
American Society of Civil Engineers | New York, NY
Process Engineering Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Conshohocken, PA
Electrical Engineer Co-op
American Society of Civil Engineers | Findlay, OH
Application Engineer/Developer INTERN - Complex Fluids
American Society of Civil Engineers | Brisbane, CA
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Detroit
American Society of Civil Engineers | Livonia, MI
Chief Geoscientist
American Society of Civil Engineers
Application Engineer - Internships CAE/CFD Metro Boston
American Society of Civil Engineers | Burlington, MA
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Civil Enginering Intern - Water/Wastewater/Site-Development
American Society of Civil Engineers | Sacramento, CA
Staff Accountant
American Society of Civil Engineers | Englewood, CO
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus