- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The private consortium that manages the Los Alamos National Laboratory has been fined by the federal government for losing track of secret weapons data and nuclear material.

The fine of more than $192,000 finalized last month was reduced by about 20 percent from what was initially proposed by the Department of Energy in May.

Federal investigators said the lab contractor failed to catch a discrepancy in shipping papers for the classified material when it was sent to the Nevada Nuclear Security Site, The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/1N9I14b ). The classified materials and nuclear material have never been located.

The lab management company is called Los Alamos National Security and is headed by Bechtel Corp. Laboratory spokesman Kevin Roark told the newspaper Friday that lab management cooperated in the investigation after reporting the issue to the government. The notice of violation is being reviewed, Roark said.

Government reports show the classified material was misplaced sometime between when it was shipped from the lab to the Nevada site in 2007 and when a lab worker realized it wasn’t there in 2012.



Los Alamos National Security workers determined the material probably never left the lab and was likely destroyed. The contractor’s investigation found that the area was secure, and that “it is unlikely that a scientist saved the item and walked out with it later.”

Federal investigators disagreed. They said security had been reduced at the site where the classified material had been stored.

Three dozen people had access to the area where the material was stored, and 16 of them had building keys, according to federal investigators. In addition, security had been reduced, and pedestrian and vehicle searches were not performed.

Los Alamos National Security, which has a $2 billion contract to oversee the lab, challenged the federal government’s findings and argued that the original fine was “excessive.”

Investigators reduced the proposed $247,500 fine because the security lapse was a one-time incident.

In a separate, final violation notice, Department of Energy investigators penalized Sandia National Laboratories’ contractor Sandia Corp. $577,500 for the unauthorized release of classified documents and nuclear weapons data.

That fine wasn’t reduced. It stemmed from an unidentified Sandia employee creating various versions of a presentation involving classified material over 15 years without proper reviews and storing it on an unclassified server.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, https://www.sfnewmexican.com

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