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LANL Holds Accountable Those Individuals Responsible For Improper Shipment Of Special Nuclear Material

on July 11, 2017 - 10:15pm
Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos National Laboratory has taken swift action against those responsible for improperly shipping small quantities of special nuclear material to both Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory last month.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) issued a press release June 24 stating it had been informed that the shipments should have been made using commercial ground cargo services, and were packaged and containerized for this mode of transportation. However, the actual shipment documents were instead prepared for transport via commercial air cargo services, a mode of transportation not authorized by Federal regulations.

The shipments were subsequently sent aboard commercial cargo aircraft. Upon receipt of the shipments at their respective destinations, safety tests confirmed that there was no loss of radioactive material or contamination.

Although these shipments arrived safely at their destinations and no one was hurt, this mistake, taken together with other mistakes in recent years, is unacceptable and is in the process of being addressed promptly and thoroughly. Our response to this incident is not business as usual, a laboratory spokesman said this afternoon. “Toward that end, all of those involved from the individual contributor level up the management chain have been held accountable through actions that include terminations, suspensions and compensation consequences.”

NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, USAF (Ret) said of the incident, “This failure to follow established procedures is absolutely unacceptable. I require the contractors who manage and operate our national laboratories and production plants to rigorously adhere to the highest safety and security standards in performing the vitally important work they do for our national security.”

LANL commented this afternoon that it is transferring the responsibility for fissile nuclear material shipments to a different organization within the Laboratory.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will be putting into place Laboratory-wide measures to significantly reduce the likelihood of similar events occurring,” the laboratory spokesman said this afternoon.