For Immediate Release
POGO Requests White House Intervention for Los Alamos
WASHINGTON - The Project On Government Oversight sent a letter today to President Obama citing an internal memo obtained
from sources that outlines a systemic and massive failure of the
Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos management to adequately
enforce safety policies since 2002.
The January 20, 2010, memo from DOE's Los Alamos Site Office details
several recent safety incidents at a number of Technical Area (TA)
facilities, such as three accidental explosions, and an accidental
electric shock and burn to an employee over 5 percent of his body.
These accidents closely resemble a number of other incidents at Los
Alamos over the last eight years, including at least two other
accidental explosions, a severe eye injury caused by a laser that lead
to a six month shutdown of the lab, and an incident in which a
researcher accidentally sprayed acid into other researchers' eyes.
"This memo shows that the supposed smartest people on the planet are
incapable of learning from their mistakes," said Peter Stockton, POGO
Senior Investigator. "Los Alamos will not adequately enforce safety
requirements, until DOE begins to properly use its power of the purse
and takes a significant chunk out of Los Alamos' contract award fee."
This memo, as well as these recent incidents, highlight the need for
DOE to reverse its six-month moratorium on DOE-initiated functional
assessments, reviews, evaluations, and inspections. In addition, the
Office of Health, Safety, and Security (HSS), DOE's independent
oversight body, has not scheduled any oversight inspections for 2010,
but should do so immediately.
"The clear systemic management problems at Los Alamos require
stringent oversight and accountability, and we ask that you designate a
White House-level staff person to ensure that these problems at Los
Alamos and the other nuclear weapons labs are not allowed to persist,"
concludes the letter to President Obama from Danielle Brian, Executive
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.