By Ralph Damiani, The Los Alamos Monitor - Opinion
We have to admit, we were a bit confused – and surprised – by the filings notices of tort claims by the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos National Laboratory against Los Alamos County.
Why has this not been resolved already? What is the motive here?
The notices pertain to a Feb. 21 incident that reportedly occurred while the Los Alamos Fire Department was conducting training at a LANL parking structure.
The fire drill reportedly involved connecting a pumper truck to a stand pipe within the parking structure and then pressurizing the fire protection system with water.
Not long after starting this operation – according to the claim – a portion of the fire protection piping failed, causing damage to the parking structure.
Los Alamos National Security said it conducted an investigation and determined the failure of the fire protection piping was caused by the negligent “over pressurization” of the system by firefighters involved.
This is where we get lost. If there is a community that has a first-class fire department, it is Los Alamos. We have the best.
If they did indeed make a mistake – which would be rare – it seems to us that they would be the first to admit it and do what is right. The fact that this has reached this level indicates to us something else is going on.
And the county would not run from a legitimate issue where it might have done something wrong. Max Baker and the county staff are way too honorable to hide from responsibility.
So what is going on?
County Attorney Mary McInerny confirmed the filing and said, “The notice is an administrative process to let the governmental entity know they may attempt to collect on a claim.”
But why this route? Is there so little communication between the county and the lab that a legal action is necessary?
We find it impossible to believe that if the county had been simply notified they would not have done the right thing if they were responsible.
We find it very disappointing – and upsetting – that a legal action was found to be necessary here.