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LANL Firm To Pay $10M

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the hook for $10 million as a result of construction management problems that mean the new security system at the lab’s primary plutonium site does not work, the lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a joint statement issued late Tuesday.

The $10 million will cover “potentially unallowable costs” incurred in construction of the $213 million security system built around the lab’s Technical Area 55 plutonium complex, where the dangerously radioactive metal is used in the manufacture of nuclear weapon parts.

The money will come from Los Alamos National Security LLC, also known as LANS, a private company that is a partnership of Bechtel Corp., the University of California and a number of other firms. The company manages Los Alamos, a nuclear weapons research and manufacturing center, for the federal government.

The lab abruptly halted work on the project in October. Initial testing of the new Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project (NMSSUP) security system, involving fencing, sensors and other security technology, showed it did not work, but the lab was out of money to begin fixing it.

“LANS and NNSA both recognize the missed opportunities in project execution and oversight that took place with the NMSSUP project. LANS conveyed an understanding of the seriousness of the situation and the value of its partnership with the government,” the agencies said in the joint statement.

The statement says the lab must have a revised cost estimate for fixing the problems by Monday, and the federal government will then release funding for the resumption of work by Dec. 14. While work on fixing the problems continues, the lab has added extra guards to protect the building’s stockpile of plutonium, officials say.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal