Sep 28, 2007
(09-28) 17:55 PDT LOS ALAMOS -- Federal officials Friday affirmed a $3-million fine they had proposed to levy against the University of California for a serious security lapse last year at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory in New Mexico.
The "final notice of violation" was filed by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, which issued a preliminary notice of the fine in July.
The fine followed an incident in which an employee of a subcontractor downloaded more than 1,000 pages of classified documents, including data on nuclear weapons design, on a thumb drive and took them to her mobile home, where they were discovered in a drug raid targeting another resident.
UC officials had objected to the fine, saying they had followed proper procedures.
But the National Nuclear Security Administration found that the university exhibited "a fundamental, and disturbing, misunderstanding of the proper approach to security matters."
Asked Friday if UC has decided how it will respond to the final notice, university spokesman Chris Harrington said, "We are still reviewing the document. We just received it today."
UC, which managed and operated the lab from 1943 to May 2006, has 30 days in which to pay the fine or challenge it.
The security breach was discovered in October 2006 - after UC's exclusive contract for the lab ended and was replaced by a partnership consisting of UC, Bechtel International, BWX Technologies and Washington Group International. The illegal download also occurred after UC's exclusive management ended, but the National Nuclear Security Administration found that UC's failure to institute required safeguards led to the breach.
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