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The laboratory wanted corrosive-resistant plastic pipes, but federal oversight agency the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board wanted stainless steel.

The two eventually compromised on stainless steel with a corrosive-resistant plastic lining, and work resumed.

Los Alamos also has been reducing the amount of radioactive waste it creates, which has contributed to a downsize in the facility and will save money in the long run, the inspector general said. The national laboratory has been able to reduce the amount of low-level radioactive waste it creates by 47 percent per year and the level of TRU by 65 percent.

The new facility will replace a 50-year-old plant that investigators say has broken down on multiple occasions.