SANTA FE – Los Alamos National Laboratory has been docked $3.1 million for its previously disclosed mistake of shipping radioactive plutonium across the country using a commercial air cargo service.
In a letter published with LANL’s annual performance review, the National Nuclear Security Administration cited the shipping foul-up and other environmental, health and safety lapses as indicating “a programmatic breakdown” in safety management at the lab.
NNSA, a semi-autonomous wing of the Department of Energy that oversees the country’s national labs, also said in the Jan. 4 letter that it remains concerned that LANL “has yet to fully embrace” the need to improve its “operational discipline.”
The lab has been run since 2006 by Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), a private consortium that includes the University of California and Bechtel. For its performance for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 20, NNSA initially gave LANS its $41.4 million in fixed fees but only 70 percent of “at-risk” fees for leadership performance, $6.2 million out of a possible $8.5 million, for a total of $47.6 million.