In the area of conduct of engineering, LASO has not established and appears to have no plans to establish a safety system oversight program that meets the requirements of DOE M 426.1-1A.Among the responsibilities for safety system oversight personnel listed in DOE M 426.1-1A is this:
Report potential or emergent hazards immediately to DOE line management and FRs, and stop tasks, if required, to prevent imminent impact to the health and safety of workers and the public, to protect the environment, or to protect the facility and equipment and immediately notify the on-duty or on-call FR.The obvious question being who, if anyone, is currently performing this function? Perhaps the only thing more incredible about the Biennial Review is the assertion that, "LASO has improved its performance in recent months."
It's frightening to imagine how it could have been any worse.
In addition to the reader comment below, the story was covered here by Raam Wong of The Albuquerque Journal.
Subject: LOS ALAMOS SITE OFFICE CRITICIZED
LOS ALAMOS SITE OFFICE CRITICIZED IN INTERNAL SAFETY OVERSIGHT REVIEW
A National Nuclear Security Administration internal review has turned up several deficiencies in the safety oversight and assessment processes at the Los Alamos Site Office. According to a draft copy of a Chief of Defense Nuclear Safety review released last week by the Project on Government Oversight, many of the safeguards to ensure implementation and maintenance of the nuclear safety management rule at Los Alamos National Laboratory were "not implemented effectively" and that "continued improvement in most functional areas" was warranted.
While acknowledging that the site office has recently improved its performance, the Aug. 9 "Headquarters Biennial Review of Site Nuclear Safety Performance Los Alamos Site Office" found that only four of the 14 nuclear safety oversight and assessment processes reviewed met expectations: packaging and transportation, quality assurance, criticality safety, and radiation protection.
According to the review, there were five areas of significant concern, including oversight of contractor training and maintenance. Also cited were:
- Significant gaps that exist in meeting National Nuclear Security Administration requirements in the areas of formality of operations, engineering, maintenance, training, quality assurance, and safety basis;
- Staffing in several key areas found to be lacking, including conduct of engineering, contractor training and qualification, safety basis, facility representatives, maintenance, and fire protection;
- Key federal personnel that are not trained and qualified because of a "self-described personnel “churn" at the site office; and
- Assessments that have not been conducted to find out why federal oversight failed to ensure adequate implementation of nuclear safety requirements at the lab.
NNSA Working To Improve Oversight
NNSA officials would not comment on the draft report specifically, but a spokesperson said one of new NNSA chief Thomas D'Agostino's top priorities is increasing federal oversight of the labs. "We take safety and security very seriously," NNSA spokesman John Broehm said. "There are a lot of different things he'll be doing as new administrator to take care of that." The draft report went on to recommend that the Los Alamos Site Office receive external assistance from the NNSA. "The number and significance of the identified issues are of particular concern given the current state of flux within LASO," the report says. "The manager was recently selected, several key positions are in an acting status, and numerous staff functions are understaffed."