Apr 4, 2008

PBI Measure 13.1 Management Leadership

I've been reading over the LANS 2007 Performance Evaluation and I just can't believe what I'm seeing. Hopefully some of our readers can help make sense of it.

Performance Based Initiative 13 is the one in which LANS earned the lowest percentage of it's possible management fee, 35%. Measure 13.1, which directs that LANS "Ensure highly effective leadership, integration, and excellence in management of programs", is found on pages 99 to 106. Of the $7,837,939 LANS could have earned for PBI Measure 13.1 (Management Leadership), they were awarded $1,810,000 (23%).

What caught my attention was this from page 105:
b) Fee was granted in recognition of:
  • the sound, critical investigations into the Pu uptake events
That seems an odd thing to say in light of D'Agostino formally admonishing LANS in his 4 January 2008 Special Report Order. I found it especially puzzling. Let me explain why.

I have been exposed to plutonium at LANL while working in their "pit factory" and I emailed Director Anastasio about this a long time ago. I was told that the lab would investigate and report to me what had spilled onto equipment I serviced, but they were confident it had not been a plutonium exposure. They followed up about a week later saying they had not completed their investigation. That was March of 2006 and I still await an answer.

I took up blogging while searching for the answer LANS refuses to give me. My name is Frank Young and most of you know me as Pinky.

What do I think? I think a portion of that $1.81M fee allocation needs to be returned to the taxpayers and LANS needs to work a lot harder on investigating Pu uptakes. Maybe this year LANS can really earn that fee.

What do you think, Mike Anastasio? Anyone?

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since March 2006 you've done nothing but "wait"?? Uh - maybe hire a lawyer?? What in the name of God are you "waitng" for?

Anonymous said...

Don't worry - I understand from several earlier comments in other posts that Pu ingestion is not harmful and instead is a cause for celebration.

More seriously, you are in for an uphill battle. LANL will do nothing to cooperate.

Pinky and The Brain said...

I've done a little more than wait, but no - there is no lawsuit against the lab. Do you know any lawyers that want to talk to me?

Pinky and The Brain said...

"More seriously, you are in for an uphill battle. LANL will do nothing to cooperate."

They just haven't realized they want to cooperate yet.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How awful. Just know that you life is about to change and it will be really awful for a long time. Ask any of the class reps involved in the salary inequity battle. I understand that the attorney fees were in the millions and each of the plaintiffs received about $100K so it is the attorneys who will come out on top. I believe that the law firm was Rothstein and the firm also won a judgement again the state of NM for a black ice accident to the tune of $3M.

With regard to the PBI, I have worked in this field and I can tell you that the contract language and the PBI measures can be manipulated to achieve a score. The Lab has about 100 employees, all on overhead, who do nothing but calculate PBI every single day and come up with ways to justify (pad) the numbers. Where else but in the federal sector would you have PBI's, pay the contractor to calculate the PBI's, and compensate the contractor's 100 FTE's who calculate the PBI's to the tune of $25M (100 x $250K FTE cost), while NNSA has probably three FTE's to counter these numbers? My observation is that this is one area where Bechtel has brought in some top talent to crunch these numbers but as I said money is no object and NNSA pays for their salaries. I am incredulous that NNSA has such a small staff for the PBI exercise but it willingly compensates LANS for its staff of 100. Duh. I could have had a V8. When is NNSA going to and want to fix this? Where is the congressional outrage that we willingly pay the contractor's PBI staff costs but stiff NNSA by giving them less resources to do the same job and probably pay the employees alot less, assuring that LANS continues to get fatter while the NNSA employees are snowed under. No offense to the NNSA hard working employees but they are outgunned and outstaffed to ever win this PBI exercise. The LANS strategy is just to pile on the paper and data on NNSA, NNSA has a short deadline, and what else can be the result if LANS has all the "paper" to prove its results. As I said, where is the outrage? And do we think Greg Mello, the IG and congressional oversight committees are equal to this task?

Pinky, you are going to to have an incredible amount of physical and emotional stamina to fight your battle. I am truly sorry and I speak from experience.

Anonymous said...

Trying to make sense of DOE's oversight role at Los Alamos is an exercise in futility. It's an Alice in Wondrland logic that comes to mind. If you do poorly you still get rewarded millions. A failure is characterized as an opportunity for improvement, where resistance to adherence is described as ongoing review, exposed scandals immediately become past history, whisleblowers are the enemy, and glacial movement towards fixing problems is celebrated as great progress. Where DOE officials become Lab officials and UC becomes LANSE. Good luck making sense of anything going on at the Lab.

Anonymous said...

Dan Yohalem in Santa Fe. A first-class guy, he will expect you to have the solid facts on your side.

Ed Hollington in Albuquerque is more of an ambulance-chasher type. He'll take any case that involves a fight against the Lab.

Anonymous said...

Pinky,

I knew there was a reason why you tended to post environmental issues at a higher rate than other hot topics...I'm sorry this happened to you. Good luck with your case if you choose to take legal action.

Anonymous said...

It's absolutely atrocious that LANS would earn fee because of their investigation of Pu uptake. Atrocious. Doesn't NNSA remember the letter D'Agostino sent to Anastasio admonishing LANS for their poor performance in correcting long standing problems with the TA-55 engineering controls designed to prevent Pu uptake?????

So LANS screws up, doesn't provide the necessary management and leadership to prevent Pu uptakes, but they earn $1.8M for investigating Pu uptakes. Bullshit.

Enough already, time for a Congression audit of NNSA and LANS.

Anonymous said...

Want to understand how things work? Think of LANS as the tail, and the DOE as the dog the tail wags. Or think of it as the fox being in charge of the hen house being asked to evaluate and report on conditions in the hen house, then "saying--good job," regardless. Kind of like the way Bush celebrates the failures of his appointees. Call it the self assessment process if you will. Now you understand how things work?

Anonymous said...

LANS is a disaster no matter how you measure their performance. All the "best business" practices they have implemented have been rotten, late (by months) and no better than what was already in place. The workforce restructuring plan is baloney.

The new IPOs ask us to input all our performance goals without there being any idea how the new info will be implemented or how the "numbers" will tie into raises. Best business?

The emphasis on "safety" is total bullshit since LANS "crunches" the numbers any way it can to make the workplace appear safer even though it is not.

LANS sucks ass.

Anonymous said...

Pinky, Daniel Yohalem. He is a top-notch laywer in SF who saved numerous folks from the LANL machine and he knows what kind of sleaze-ball bastards and bastardettes work in Legal. The only reason more people have not sued in the end is because of the emotional and physical toll just fighting to keep one's life from literally being destroyed by the likes of HR, Legal, and the limp-dick management at top. I believe you will soon see numerous lawsuits being placed against LANL in the very near future.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Thank you for the attorney recommendations. I should have been more clear. I didn't sue LANL initially because I didn't think they had done anything wrong. Accidents happen. I've stuck by that decision for a number of reasons, among them to remove any doubt about whether money was my motivation. I shouldn't have to sue. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Richard Marquez dares you to sue...literally. He's that arrogant. He's from DOE and he knows his old cronies will reimburse LANS for all litigation costs. He laughs at those who think they can actually sue the Lab and prevail. And he's Directo A's chief of staff. So you think this attitude is limited to him? Think again. It's a club, and everybody in it knows what the rules are.

Anonymous said...

Pinky,

A lawsuit may be necessary, but a whole body count will quickly determine whether you are in any danger.

If you have not had one, you get them in the basement of the building next to the hospital. You lie under some big geiger counters for a half hour, and if you have had any uptake, it will be measured.

BTW, if you get into a disagreement with LANL, it is not just LANL lawyers and upper management. Be ready for your friends to abandon you faster than you can imagine. I am very sad that this is the case, but it is.

Anonymous said...

After listing your real name and given the fact that you run the LANL blog, LANS will probably get right on it. However, I'm not so sure they will be working on your behalf. Best of luck, though. Please be sure to let us know how this comes along.

Note to LANS: We'll all be watching this story very closely from now on, so you had best be careful how you handle it. I would suggest that Mike Anastasio give a friendly call to Mr. Young to hear what he has to say about this incident.

LANS is very big about talking the talk in regards to safety issues. Let's see if they can walk the walk or whether it's all just a bunch of showy BS to impress NNSA and collect the profit fee. This is a golden opportunity for LANS to prove this viewpoint wrong.

Eric said...

Frank,
When you get a chance, please tell us a bit more about yourself and Pu.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

PF-4,is the "loose cannon" that LANS does not want to talk about. Many incidents go either un-reported, or under-reported. This place (TA-55) "PF-4" is the weak link to Pit Manufacturing at Los Alamos, and Managment knows it. Producing Nuclear triggers at Los Alamos comes with many saftey issues that have no yet been resolved at TA 55. If the Lab is to be shut down, it will be because of TA 55. I advise you to keep up the pressure, many folkes around the country are watching this particular place very closely.
LANS Management can only cover up so much before a full scale investagation is persued.

Anonymous said...

3:45 PM "BTW, if you get into a disagreement with LANL, it is not just LANL lawyers and upper management. Be ready for your friends to abandon you faster than you can imagine. I am very sad that this is the case, but it is."

Unfortunately, this is very true. You get ostracized and you find out who your true friends are. The best is when people won't even say hello in town to you when a couple of weeks before they were asking you to go to lunch.

Anonymous said...

The real question before you proceed, is whether the dose you received is within the applicable guidelines, or have you exceeded them? If the former, you may not have a case, unfortunately. Would you be willing to post it here?

Anonymous said...

7:34 pm: "This place (TA-55) "PF-4" is the weak link to Pit Manufacturing at Los Alamos, and Managment knows it. Producing Nuclear triggers at Los Alamos comes with many saftey issues that have no yet been resolved at TA 55."

Busted!! No one at LANL refers to pits as "Nuclear triggers" (and certainly not with the capitalization). That phraseology is purely a press fabrication, and not even techically accurate. You are a poser, and not associated with LANL.

Anonymous said...

Pinky,

I wonder why anyone would think that your friends will abandon you if you decide to sue LANS as LANS is universally despised by almost every single staff member at LANL. If you feel you have a case against them and decide to sue, you will have 1000s of LANL staff cheering you on. One added bonus, if you can show that the $1.8M fee that LANS earned for investigating Pu uptake was fraudulantly obtained, you can win 10% of it under the Lincoln Law. That alone may be enough to interest a lawyer to take your case.

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Back to the issue, why do you censor me? This lis my last request.

Frank said...

"why do you censor me?"

I had to reject both of your comments last night because of the language you used. I really appreciate your support, but I really wish you could express it a little differently.

Anonymous said...

Pinky,

You will be fighting an uphill battle because between LANS, NNSA and DOE it is a club where presently LANS (Bechtel, others) hire many NNSA/DOE individuals after they retire from government service. Can you think of a better way to keep NNSA/DOE in general agreement with LANS? If NNSA/DOE retirees ever expect a shot at a second career opportunity with the contractor, they must play by the club rules. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Anonymous said...

"If the Lab is to be shut down, it will be because of TA 55." (7:34 PM)

How true! LANS' Pit Factory vision is not setting LANL up for a bright future. It is setting LANL up for demise. High level pit production at LANL will bring even greater scrutiny to the lab and more headaches in the near future.

We need to get back to supporting science rather than production work. Every Director since Anastasio knew this to be true. Mike and his Bechtel Buddies are playing with fire when it comes to emphasizing greater production work at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Any old timers at LANL know more details about Richard Morse? His story was in the Sunday LA Monitor.

www.lamonitor.com
****************************************
Spotlight on Los Alamos: Lab's luster fades for retired scientist

By CAROL A. CLARK - Los Alamos Monitor, April 6 '08

Bitterness emanates from retired physicist Richard Morse as he describes his growing disappointment with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Since expressing reliability concerns about the W-76 nuclear warhead developed at Los Alamos in the 1970s, Morse said he has been betrayed, persecuted and harassed.

“My mail goes missing, my phone’s been tapped and my Medicare payments stopped,” he said. “Unknown assailants have taken garden hoes to my cats – breaking their small bones on more than one occasion.”

He is increasingly reclusive and won’t leave home for more than two-hour intervals. Tears well easily and often in his eyes during recent interviews around town and in front of his ramshackle home on Bath Tub Row.

“They turned my home upside-down and inside-out more than once,” Morse said. “They know I know too much.”

...In 1976, Morse was fired, he said, by LANL Director Harold Agnew, rehired by Director Don Kerr and fired by Director Siegfried Hecker. His employment problems revolved around his outspokenness on the W-76, he said, “From the very beginning of the case’s concept, I argued, often aggressively with lab hierarchy, that it was too thin.”

Anonymous said...

LANS/Bechtel and NNSA are betting the house on their hopes for a big pit production future at LANL. They've got all their chips placed on the table for this one, but they are only holding a lousy pair of 2's.

Unfortunately, when they lose on this hand and go bankrupt, the rest of LANL will pay a heavy price for their poor decision.

Anonymous said...

Busted!! No one at LANL refers to pits as "Nuclear triggers"
==================

You got that correct. LANL scientists
and engineers have another term for the
device that includes the pits.

The term "nuclear trigger" is something
the press cooked up to help explain the
devices. You are correct that nobody at
LANL uses the term "trigger".

Anonymous said...

“Unknown assailants have taken garden hoes to my cats – breaking their small bones on more than one occasion.”

This guy sounds crazy to me.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens if you sue the lab:
1. You spend 8-5 in a blank cubicle looking at wall paper.
2. They pull your clearance and all your funding.
3. Investigate everything about your life. (And they have access to files even you don't know about.)
4. Figure out how to drive you crazy.
5. Run legal loops around you until you run out of money..
6. Make you quit in frustration.
7. Blackball you with any outside contractors.
8. Make life true hell.

Any questions???

Anonymous said...

9:31 "I wonder why anyone would think that your friends will abandon you if you decide to sue LANS as LANS is universally despised by almost every single staff member at LANL."

You may wonder about that, but you are in fact incorrect. LANS may be despised, but your friends will disappear nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

You left off "9.", 4:35 PM.

9. Once you finally win your case in court, they spend the next 10 years appealing it to death.

LANL has deep pockets to play this game. You might as well be taking on Exxon.

Anonymous said...

4/6/08 4:15 PM ... "This guy sounds crazy to me."

I don't know. I am aware of similar events happening to anyone who supported people who were placed on investigatory leave like having dead rats tossed in their trucks and threats made as well.

Anonymous said...

4:35 PM - you are right on.

Anonymous said...

"That [plutonium exposure] was March of 2006 and I still await an answer." (Frank Young.)

LANS, LLC was awarded the M&O contract of LANL, December 21, 2005, due effective June 1, 2006.

But, this incident (plutonium exposure), did happen before June 1, 2006, shouldn´t you question UC, due to the fact that they held the M&O contract of that time, i.e. the time of the incident, i.e. March 2006, and Robert W. Kuckuck were director, and not, yet, Michael R. Anastasio.

Doesn´t this complicate your own decision(s) of what to do?!

Anonymous said...

6:30 PM - do NOT go there. Or should I say manager. UC and LANS/UC are both responsible for mistakes before June 1. DOn't forget the people who were there before and after - Wallace, Beason, Neu, Seestrom, Bishop, Gibbs, et al. DOE will pay either way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is quite the crew, isn't it? Me thinks there should have been more housecleaning when LANS took over...

Anonymous said...

11:38 am: "Since expressing reliability concerns about the W-76 nuclear warhead developed at Los Alamos in the 1970s, Morse said he has been betrayed, persecuted and harassed."

Several years ago, in response to Morse's harangues in the national press regarding the W76, he was given a "clearance for a day" by DOE and in a meeting at LASO was given mnay classified details about W76 reliability to convince him of his error. He went away happy but then pretended he never learned anything and kept up his rants. It is obvious from the quotes in the story that he is mentally unstable and paranoid. Sad.

Anonymous said...

"Me thinks there should have been more housecleaning when LANS took over..." 4/6/08 7:47 PM

These people ( Wallace, Beason, Neu, Seestrom, Bishop, Gibbs, et al ) helped LANS LLC write the LANS proposal. In return, they were rewarded with good positions and huge raises once LANS took over the lab. From what I've observed, most of them have much stronger loyalty to LANS LLC than they do to LANL employees. Beason is probably the one exception to the rule.

Longer term, I expect most of the good old boy LANL/UC crew will eventually be moved out and we'll end up with greater direct control from Bechtel Corporate through the use of Bechtel replacements. Oh, what fun we have awaiting us!

Frank Young said...

I'll try to catch up on some of the comments here. Thank you to everyone for your support and suggestions. There has not been a single negative comment directed towards me and that speaks volumes about the Los Alamos community. Thank you.

Many people have commented on legal issues. A lawsuit is a decision I haven't revisited recently. I'll consider all the options, but as I said earlier I should not have to sue. Then again, I shouldn't have to do this on a blog so who knows.

To the person who asked about the whole body count, no I have not had one.

To those who are worried about my safety or how I will be treated, I don't think you have much to worry about. I don't live in Los Alamos and haven't even lived in New Mexico for a long time. I also am not a LANL employee, LANL was a customer of my employer. I've worked at many places around the lab, but only once at PF-4 and for only two weeks.

To those who asked about the exposure, there were two. One was inhalation from working on contaminated equipment and the other was an insignificant external exposure a few days later. Also somebody misunderstood the date I cited, that was the date of an email. The inhalation exposure was 1 April 2002. I don't know who was the lab director at the time.

I know this doesn't answer every question. I will be here to answer more and report on how LANS chooses to react. Thanks again to everyone!

Frank Young said...

There is one thing I forgot to mention for those who are concerned for my safety. I don't know how long LANS has known that I am Pinky, but I suspect it is at least since 20 November 2007. I'm still here so nobody is trying very hard to get rid of me. I know I have someone's attention because they've started a blog about me. Take a look at I am Frank Young, I am God.

The blog is funny and nicely done. I'm flattered to be an "American Badass" rather than America's most dangerous mouse. I just hope the blogmeister didn't get my name from an official use only document.

Anonymous said...

"...This guy sounds crazy to me..."

The only way to know is to shake the high rollers in Lost Wages.

Anonymous said...

Beason is probably the one exception to the rule.
==========

I like Beason. I also like his novels.

Anonymous said...

Frank,

You think you were exposed to Pu in 2002, and yet you have not had a full body scan?

Why in the world have you not done this?

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I've got this straight. The LANL blog is run by someone who:

(a) Doesn't work for LANL, and

(b) Doesn't even live in New Mexico!

Somehow, I can't help but feel that this directly reflects on the employees at LANL. They can't even get up the gumption to run a decent LANL blog!

This would be a great time to throw out the nasty "S" word, but that's forbidden because it hurts employee feelings. However, that particular shoe appears to fit very well.

What has this place become? Wait, please don't answer that question! I don't think I can stand to listen to the answer. It's too painful to contemplate.

Anonymous said...

9:05am asks a reasonable question. It seems weird that you would not get a full body count after having 'been exposed to plutonium at LANL while working in their "pit factory"'. What's with that, Frank?

Anonymous said...

5:50 PM - you are an ass. The guy is asking for help and you are blaming the victim because he was not told what to do by the institution with all it's highly trained safety czars. I am so glad to hear that you are so smart and would know all the questions to ask if ... say ... you were exposed to something you don't know much about. Gosh the arrogance at LANL sometimes is quite disheartening.

Frank Young said...

"Somehow, I can't help but feel that this directly reflects on the employees at LANL. They can't even get up the gumption to run a decent LANL blog!"


That's not really a fair thing to say. Nearly all the content in this blog is comments from LANL employees. Most of the posts come from news sources they could have read elsewhere on the net.

I know that working at LANL isn't the same as working for LANL, but I think I've done ok running the blog. Plus I'm rather happy I've never worked for LANL.

Anonymous said...

Frank-
This blog is a lot of work and I'd like to thank-you for your efforts to allow open discussion.

To any critics- it would not be safe for a LANL employee - lab management (past or present) has a lot of power in this company town.

Anonymous said...

7:30 pm: "Nearly all the content in this blog is comments from LANL employees."

Frank, since you have consistently refused to answer questions about the sources of comments, including what percentage comes from lanl.gov addresses, this statement is rather strange. How can you know who is a LANL employee if they don't post from LANL? Just 'cause they say so??

It seems from the lack of new top posts since Friday that everyone is so caught up in your "problem" (including you) that no interest exists in continuing the blog. I'm sure self-identifying was cathartic; now's the time to end the blog. Really - the comments from the last few weeks indicate no one here is any longer interested in serious discussion or facts. Thanks for your service, now do the honorable thing. Quit.

Frank Young said...

7:18PM,
Yes I am asking for help, but I don't mind answering the question. I'm sure there will be many more. The truth is I'm afraid of being ridiculed for any mistake, so I'm trying to choose my words carefully.

I'm an engineer, not a scientist. I only took one year of physics in college and that was a long time ago. My official title was Senior Field Engineer. I have nothing to do with what goes on inside of PF-4 unless they need work on their power system.

I worked for a company called Eaton (formerly known as Cutler-Hammer) out of their Los Angeles office. Eaton didn't have much of a presence in New Mexico but they were hired to do electrical maintenance at several LANL tech areas. The word was that someone in the company had a friend at Bechtel.

The lead engineer on the project was from the Phoenix office but was living in Santa Fe at the time. There was also another Eaton employee from the San Diego office who was living in Los Alamos on short term assignment. I had never met nor worked with either of these two before.

Using other employees from the Los Angeles office, the TA-50 portion of this work had already been completed. I volunteered for this but was assigned something else.

When the TA-55 portion was scheduled I volunteered again and this time I was assigned to the project. The project lasted Monday to Friday for two weeks, at night, starting 1 April 2002.

A lot happened during those two weeks, but before I get into that the short answer to the question is at the end of the two weeks I left without knowing I had been exposed.

Frank Young said...

4/7/08 8:15 PM,
You must be new to the blog. The stats I see are also freely available to everyone else. Click on the hit counters to look for yourself. I also take post requests just in case you have one.

As far as who is posting anonymously, even Google could only tell you what connections the comments are coming from - not who is typing them. Don't take my word for it, ask them.

And quit now when I have so much more to say? Not going to happen. There are a few more facts I still need to type.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well, neither link works. Just blank pages. And, I've been reading the blog since the beginning of LTRS. But my question still remains: how do you know, regardless of where a poster logs on from, whether or not he/she is a LANL employee?? LANL resident? lanl.gov address? NNM rsident? Some answers please.

BTW, I don't think contributers here care that you "have so much more to say." You need to be reminded that despite your personal difficulties, this blog is NOT about you. Your recent "outing" seems to have made you forget that.

Anonymous said...

Frank,

Inhaled/ingested Pu stays in the body for a long time. A whole body count would still be valid, in case you have any worries. It will still be valid for decades, so you don't really have to hurry, at least for technical reasons.

Frank Young said...

4/7/08 9:55 PM (the first one),
Consult with your favorite computer guru if you need tech support. Both counters provide stats for the blog that have been available to anyone since the day the blog started.

I don't know who any anonymous comment comes from unless they tell me. I've been saying all along that only Google could know, and they may not log that information. Ask them.

And finally you need to be reminded that this thread is not about me. It is about $1.81M LANS accepted in fee that they know they did not earn.

Don't worry, there will be posts about me. I'm sure you can't wait.

Frank Young said...

4/7/08 9:55 PM (the second one),

Thanks, I did not know a whole body count facility was available in Los Alamos. I've read of one somewhere in the Carlsbad or El Paso area. Do you know of any near Houston, Texas?

Anonymous said...

10:27 pm: "I don't know who any anonymous comment comes from unless they tell me."

Well, since almost all comments are anonymous, that seems to validate my claim. How then can you state "Nearly all the content in this blog is comments from LANL employees," as you did at 7:30? As I asked before, please sustantiate that statement. I'll bet you can't. What else can't you substantiate?

Frank Young said...

You seem a bit frantic, have you spent your bonus already?

I think I have a fairly well informed opinion about where most of the comments come from. You are entitled to your own.

Anonymous said...

Frank, it appears from some of the latest posts that you're getting under the skin of someone in the LANS management chain.

FYI, I know of almost no one left in town who thinks highly of LANS. Staff who can are looking for ways to bail out of the place. LANS has become a dirty word around these parts.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Pinky, it would seem as though someone or someones are trying to convince you to shut down and give it up. Please don't - this is our only venue to try and make a difference by letting folks know how corrupt the management here really is.

Anonymous said...

Frank-

I am a staff member who currently works at TA_55. I read your story and am curious to know- what are the indications you were internally exposed to Pu? if Pu contaminated solution spilled onto the equipment you serviced, did not any CAM alarms go off? did you have rad monitoring equipment around? if there was potential contamination present, did the workers wear the appropriate PPE, e.g. coveralls, booties, respirator, etc? were RCTs present during the work? were radiological surveys done prior to any work done being done on the equipment? thanks for answering any of these questions.

Anonymous said...

4/7 11:05 pm: "I think I have a fairly well informed opinion about where most of the comments come from. You are entitled to your own."

OK - so now at least you admit it's your opinion instead of stating it as a fact as you did earlier. Since you aren't willing to say what "informs" your opinion, we'll just leave you to your little secrets, or whatever.

Anonymous said...

4/7 10:27 pm: "Don't worry, there will be posts about me. I'm sure you can't wait."

Right, just like I can't wait for my next root canal. At least they are to my benefit. A potential Pu uptake and all of a sudden you're a rock star. Yay. Get in line.

Anonymous said...

(I first raised the whole body count, just to keep track)

6:55 asks some very good questions, and is correct in every respect, Frank.

I am speculating about Frank's understanding of Pu, but I would not expect a non-Pu worker to know any of the things that 6:55 mentioned. We all joke about the huge amount of training and how it detracts from productivity, but much of the 55 training is very useful and Pu workers are highly and specifically trained.

I would expect anyone at 55 to recognize these points, and I would expect there to be some record of the answers to every one of 6:55's questions. If these were handled correctly, then LANL should be able to answer Frank's questions in a matter of days.

PS - a urine assay would also be good, if a whole body count is unavailable.

Frank Young said...

4/8/08 8:22 PM/8:26 PM,

I'm not a "rock star" at all. If you are jealous of me then you must be in a tough situation. Is there anything I can do to help?

Frank Young said...

4/8/08 8:29 PM,
You are correct that I have no LANL Pu training and I was not a Pu worker. I also have no idea who does whole body counts or urine assays for Pu on a walk in basis. I do know you can waste a lot of time trying to get them from an HMO.

Let me try to answer 6:55's questions and we'll go from there. Thanks to you both.

"what are the indications you were internally exposed to Pu?"

The pipe that leaked ran along the ceiling of the lower level of PF-4. I believe there were three pipes, but only one had spilled onto the equipment I worked on. These pipes carried the waste from operations in the labs on the upper floor of PF-4 over to TA-50. The spill, as well as two others in the same room, were pointed out to me by a LANL employee before I started work. I asked what it was and he told me he didn't know. I also asked if I should not proceed and no one stopped me. I had no indication anything was wrong until many days later when I started to feel sick.

"if Pu contaminated solution spilled onto the equipment you serviced, did not any CAM alarms go off?"

The spills I described all occurred before the first time I entered PF-4. The exterior of the equipment I tested and the wall above it were stained both by the original spill and a subsequent cleanup. The interior of the equipment was spared from most of the liquid and electrically seemed to be in satisfactory condition overall, but did not appear to have been cleaned like the exterior. Compared to the other things that happened that night, this task seemed unremarkable.

There was one CAM in the center of the room when I began working and it did eventually alarm. To remove power from the equipment I was working on, we had the building ventilation turned off. Were I to ever do similar work I'd want that CAM as close to me as possible. By the way, when we did evacuate I was sent home for the night (to my hotel room). I was not called until later to return for a nasal swab.

"did you have rad monitoring equipment around?"

There was at least one person who I believe you call an RCT. He carried a Geiger counter looking instrument and operated/monitored the CAM. There were HFMs staged at the building main entrance and by the stairways. There were also three "whole body scanners" by the main entrance. I'm not sure what you call those. Miracle machines if all three ever work on the same day.

"if there was potential contamination present, did the workers wear the appropriate PPE, e.g. coveralls, booties, respirator, etc?"

Nobody told me there was potential contamination present. Call me stupid, but it was my first day in PF-4. I had no idea they worked with plutonium in solution. My impression was that the RCT didn't know there was contamination present either. He seemed mystified by the CAM readings and I remember him mentioning there 'wasn't supposed to be anything down here.'

As for PPE, I wore red, LANL supplied coveralls and kevlar gloves. No respirator, but I did wear booties.

"were RCTs present during the work? "

At least one was in the building.

"were radiological surveys done prior to any work done being done on the equipment?"

No radiological survey was done while I was present. Other than that I don't know.

"thanks for answering any of these questions"

I hope I answered all of them, and I hope you don't mind a question from me. If you work in TA-55 why don't you have access to this information. Is this really the first you've heard of me?

If you are new to TA-55 perhaps you wanted to see the pipes that leaked. I don't think that is possible anymore as LANL has recently replaced them. Another version of the story is available here.

I'm sorry it took me so long to respond. It's been a long day for me.

Anonymous said...

Frank, I've worked at TA-55 for 7 years and I don't recall this incident. The 2 biggest news-worthy incidents have been the Pu-238 uptake, the most recent uptakes caused by glove tears, and of course the chemical inhalation incident caused by D&D glovebox equipment. The 3 portal monitors which you speak of are to measure whole body contamination when exiting PF-4.

Anonymous said...

New anti-terror weapon: Hand-held lie detector - MSNBC

www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23926278

Wed., April. 9, 2008

FORT JACKSON, S.C. - The Pentagon will issue hand-held lie detectors this month to U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan, pushing to the battlefront a century-old debate over the accuracy of the polygraph.

The new device, known by the acronym PCASS, for Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, uses a commercial TDS Ranger hand-held personal digital assistant with three wires connected to sensors attached to the hand. An interpreter will ask a series of 20 or so questions in Persian, Arabic or Pashto: "Do you intend to answer my questions truthfully?" "Are the lights on in this room" "Are you a member of the Taliban?" The operator will punch in each answer and, after a delay of a minute or so for processing, the screen will display the results: "Green," if it thinks the person has told the truth, "Red" for deception, and "Yellow" if it can't decide.

The PCASS cannot be used on U.S. personnel, according to a memo authorizing its use, signed in October by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr.

X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X*X

I understand that NNSA has authorized LANS to order several hundred of these PCASS devices to be used by managers at LANL (just kidding... for now).

Anonymous said...

"The 3 portal monitors which you speak of are to measure whole body contamination when exiting PF-4."

This is correct, but incomplete for a non-rad worker. These portal monitors will detect external contamination, i.e. on your skin. They would not detect internal exposure in your respiratory or alimentary systems.

Nasal swipes detect inhaled Pu, if the you or the RCT remembers to get them wet (which is often forgotten, rendering the swipes useless).

Whole body counts check for inhaled Pu in your lungs.

Bioassay checks for ingested Pu in your urine.

There is some overlap between the three, but this is the big picture for non-Pu workers.

Anonymous said...

I know of the pipes you are referring to. They carried nitric acid effluent from TA-55 to TA-50 for processing. FOr 2:00 pm, I know the portals just measure skin contamination. I was answering Frank's question as to his recollection of these being there upon his exit. All of us who work with Pu are on yearly bioassay and whole body counting. Some workers go bi-yearly. Its part of our dosimetry program.

Anonymous said...

All of us who work with Pu are on yearly bioassay and whole body counting. Some workers go bi-yearly. Its part of our dosimetry program.


And you really trust that you are being given correct screenings and honest results? This expectation from the same people who persecute anyone who raises any kind of issue. I speak from experience. I was sexually harassed, had witnesses to the harassement, other complaints had been received, but hey, in the Lab way, the individual got promoted and I remain with zero credibility (thanks Pat Trujillo). By the way, none of the witnesses had any recollection of the incidents and to this day, will not look me in the eye.

Anonymous said...

Frank, Interesting to read about your activities in the substation rooms of TA-55, PF-4.

I am well experienced in the power system for TA-55 all the way back to early 1984. The leak you speak of is certainly not the first one to have ever happened. I had some contractors with me on my watch that had to shed their coveralls for the female RCT's.

I'm watching with interest and will chime in as needed.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, yes I trust the results I am given for both my bioassay AND whole body counts.

Frank Young said...

4/9/08 6:45 PM and 7:38 PM,

Thank you. It means a lot to finally reach people who could verify what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever had a baseline whole body measurement prior to your exposure? Most people born before ~1968 or so have a body burden of Pu due to the above ground nuclear tests conducted around the world. Any measured Pu above this burden could then be from your exposure. I am not sure how efective a pee test would be this long after your exposure.

Frank Young said...

No, I haven't. I was literally issued a z# in the parking lot and left two weeks later without realizing what had happened.

You also mentioned the urine assay, do you have any knowledge of what is the most sensitive measurement technique? From what I've found out some variants of ICP-MS could even measure concentrations by isotope.

Anonymous said...

Urine mass spec is the most sensitive. Both urine and whole body counts are sufficient to detect any PF-4 exposure.