- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on a review of safety at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

The chairman of an independent federal oversight panel says many of the safety systems in place at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility date to the 1970s when operations first began.

Sean Sullivan with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board says the systems are vintage, prone to failure and will need to be upgraded to meet future needs.

The safety board is hosting a public hearing in Santa Fe to discuss the risks associated with plutonium work at the national lab.

Los Alamos last year restarted development of the plutonium cores used to trigger the explosion in nuclear weapons. The U.S. Energy Department wants to ramp up production to 80 pits per year by 2030.

Officials with the National Nuclear Security Administration told the panel Wednesday that Los Alamos has made substantial upgrades in recent years, including structural changes to protect against a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

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11:15 a.m.

Members of an independent federal oversight panel are in New Mexico to discuss the risks associated with ramping up plutonium work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where past problems have resulted in safety concerns and costly fines.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has scheduled a public hearing Wednesday evening in Santa Fe. The board advises the president and the U.S. Energy Department.

Los Alamos last year restarted development of the plutonium cores used to trigger the explosion in nuclear weapons. The U.S. Energy Department wants to ramp up production to 80 pits per year by 2030.

The board is looking at actions the lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration have taken to minimize risks as well as the adequacy of safety systems for current and future operations.

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