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"Forget the Rest" blog

For immediate release 2/20/07
Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 or Peter Neils, 505-243-2546

House Committee Asks GAO To Review Missions at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Citing Concerns about Security, Safety, and Sound Business Practices

This interesting bipartisan request (pdf) is the culmination of many years of frustration. 

Last week, Peter Neils (Study Group President) and I met with the staff of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as with the cognizant analysts at the General Accounting Office (GAO).  It was clear this was coming.

Elsewhere in Washington, we learned that concern about LANL's culture is not confined to one subcommittee.  We found echoes of concern expressed in many places, including the armed services and appropriations committees. 

We also met with the Chairman, another Member, and the senior staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) in Washington, whose concerns about the safety situation at LANL in particular were documented in a letter (pdf) to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on February 1 of this year.  We have summarized some of the DNFSB's recent concerns about LANL in the attached note, which also speaks to the underlying culture.  This note was provided to the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and others.

Study Group Director Greg Mello:

It's wonderful that somebody in Congress is finally beginning to take oversight of the nuclear weapons laboratories, or at least of Los Alamos, more seriously.  The truth is that all the labs need a similar review.  So do the production plants and the test site.  Overall, too much money is chasing too little work.  Los Alamos has the largest nuclear weapons budget, and this is part of why it has the most problems.  A deeper problem, which Congress itself needs to address, is why we are not complying with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires disarmament.  The primary security problem with keeping a huge bomb establishment -- even expanding it -- is that other countries will bolt from any nonproliferation regime based on a "Do as I say, not as I do," concept.  The real security problem has nothing to do with jump-drives or fences.  It has to do with investing in nuclear weapons, period.
Study Group President Peter Neils:
Our meetings last week with the majority staff of the sub-committee on oversight and investigations and GAO confirmed our view that the LANL security problem was long overdue for some serious, non-partisan scrutiny. The GAO is the appropriate agency to conduct this review and we lament that it has taken so long to initiate a credible investigation.
ENDS
-- 
Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group * www.lasg.org
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque, NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-577-8563 cell * 505-265-1207 fax

1362A-2 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544
505-661-9677 (voice and fax)
 
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