There have been so many security and safety meltdowns at Los Alamos over the last five years, it's hard to keep 'em all straight (well, at least the ones that don't involve meth labs). But now, the investigators at the Government Accountability Ability have put a half-decade of scandals into a single document. John Fleck runs down the tally:
- Fifty-seven security incidents "involving the compromise or potential compromise of classified information"
- Nineteen violations of rules meant to protect against nuclear accidents;
- Shoddy accounting for nuclear materials; and
- Management problems that delayed and drove up the cost of two major nuclear research machines.
A Los Alamos spokesman welcomed the Government Accountability Office report, noting improvements since a new corporate management team took over in June 2006...
The report's authors were also not so sanguine about the suggestion that progress was being made. "In our view," the investigators wrote, "this short period of time is not sufficient to provide a basis for meaningful trend analysis."
Furthermore, some of the problems highlighted in the report happened after the new management took over. In July 2007, for example, a lab area was found to contain 40 percent more nuclear materials than allowed by safety regulations.
In September 2007, key plutonium operations at Los Alamos had to be shut down because of safety concerns.