Project On Government Oversight
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 10, 2005
12:23 PM
CONTACT: Project On Government Oversight
Beth Daley, beth@pogo.org, 202-347-1122
 
Los Alamos Workers Exposed to Hazardous Fumes
 

WASHINGTON -- August 10 --Two post doctoral employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory "were exposed to hazardous chemical vapors," resulting in one being hospitalized for six days according to an Occurrence Report obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

To receive a copy of the report, contact Beth Daley, beth@pogo.org or 202-347-1122. The report will be posted on POGO's web site later today at http://www.pogo.org

According to an unconfirmed version of the event, one employee who was contaminated was told to keep working even though she complained of feeling dizzy. She then went on vacation and experienced severe respiratory problems. As a result, she had to be hospitalized for six days. According the Occurrence Report, the second employee experienced symptoms which subsided.

On Monday, POGO reported that an incident involving workers being exposed to a deadly radioactive material had spread to locations in four states (http://pogo.org/p/homeland/ha-050801-radiofedex.html). One source says that the Lab has already spent $1 million on the clean up resulting from the contamination incident which took place on July 14. It is still unclear what measures the Lab is taking to discover what other public sites - grocery stores, gas stations, etc - may be contaminated from this incident.

Despite the severity of these incidents, the Lab continues to downplay the dangers to the workers and the public. Today the Lab issued a press release on this latest lapse in health and safety which can be viewed here: http://www.lanl.gov/news/index.php?fuseaction=home.story&story_id=7055

Last year, Lab operations were fully shut down following a series of security and safety lapses, including an incident where a student's eye was damaged by a laser beam (see http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,64256,00.html). "Los Alamos spent at least $500 million in taxpayer dollars to get their safety and security standards beefed up. All the evidence we've seen so far this year is that they have failed miserably," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO.

At one point last year, the Department of Energy had estimated the cost of the shut down was $367 million to the taxpayer. According to the Los Alamos Monitor, the former director of Los Alamos, Pete Nanos, testified to "Congress that he did not believe the University of California should pay for the costs of a lengthy suspension of operations at the laboratory." In a letter to the Department of Energy in November, the Project On Government Oversight had pegged the estimate to at least $500 million (see http://pogo.org/p/homeland/hl-041101-nuclear.html) which included ancillary costs.

The Santa Fe New Mexican filed a story today on this latest incident which can be viewed here: http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/31106.html

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight is an independent investigative non-profit whose mission is to expose corruption in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

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