Monday, May 08, 2006

National Nuclear Security Administration safety official claims he was forced to transfer

A senior safety officer for the National Nuclear Security Administration says he’s been reassigned because government higher-ups want to silence his criticism of safety oversight at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Chris Steele, 47, said Monday that the Department of Energy’s NNSA reassigned him from his job overseeing safety at the nuclear-weapons lab to a position that oversees safety training at facilities across the country.

The reassignment came despite his request to remain in his old position.

He said he was notified during the first week of April, about a week after a meeting with NNSA officials in which he criticized a two-year pilot project that would shift some safety oversight from the federal government to the management contractor at Los Alamos lab.

Steele said he told NNSA officials the shift would be “unsafe, unethical, immoral and just plain wrong.”

He fears his leaving an already depleted safety office at Los Alamos lab will adversely affect safety there, he said.

The new job is “a trick to get me out of here,” Steele said. He initially turned down the job but was told he had to take it.

Los Alamos, managed by the University of California for over 60 years, will now be managed by the 7-year contract winner Los Alamos National Security, LLC (a limited liability company consisting of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, and Washington Group International) effective June 1, 2006.

For an insider look at Los Alamos National Laboratoy's ongoing issues read the blog: LANL, the Real Story


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