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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another radiation leak at LANL

Anonymously contributed: -------------------------------------------------------------- http://www.lamonitor.com/content/workers-exposed-radiation

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh a little bit of radiation is good for the rheumatiz, along with some of the rheumatiz medicine. So says granny.

Anonymous said...

The PR spin on this story is just amazing. Draw the focus to the 'low level' aspect, away from the fact that twelve staff were able to walk out of a rad lab with measurable counts, spread the contamination all the way to their homes, and no alarm was tripped. Where were the RCTs? I have never heard of any DOE rad facility that you could exit without being counted. Did the workers go out the back door on the weekend and by-pass the standard exit policy?
This sure looks like more than just an isolated accident. It looks like yet one more example of a culture that says: "I'm so smart that the rules just don't apply to me."

Anonymous said...

You might suspect that Congress, the DNFSB, POGO and other interested parties are left scratching their collective heads over this event. If you can't get it right to monitor exits from a low level rad facility, why should you be trusted to get it right at a high level nuc facility? Moreover, given the apparent extent of the condition, NNSA headquarters has to be deeply concerned that the local office has 'gone native' and is not doing the necessary due diligence federal oversight required of the facility operating contractor.

Anonymous said...

Why care?

about as important as a shooting star. Bright, occasional,in meaning nothing.

Impact of a flea.

Anonymous said...

An apt analogy is when counterfeit Cisco routers were found being introduced through DoD supply chains. Because they were low end products, and because it was most likely financially motivated actors inserting them into the supply chain, some dismiss it as being not a serious issue. However, in reality, the ability to insert counterfeit items into the supply chain demonstrates how easy it is for someone, say, a nation-state backed actor, to insert intentionally compromised items into the supply chain, and that there were no effective controls in place that would prevent something like this from happening.

So it's not just that radiation got out of the facility or that people got exposed to and took home some betas. This incident shows that controls were not in place or were ineffective and there was little preventing radiation and radioactive material (even minute quantities over time) from getting out accidentally or intentionally. An important issue in the day and age where discussion of terrorist methods include dirty bombs.

Anonymous said...

While I would agree that it is most likely that this one isolated incident was not serious from the point of view of the amount of radiation that got out, it is the larger question that is much more of a problem for those who have to are accountable for ensuring that the controls are in place (e.g., LANS management).

You could also envision a scenario where disgruntled employee could discover holes in control and security, and decide to use these security gaps to intentionally remove small amounts of radioactive material from the lab over time, for the sole purpose of trying to embarrass LANS management.

Anonymous said...

Other analogies also come to mind. Each one had, or will have, major impact across all of DOE.

- Don't worry about the 82 year old nun, we will do better against a well trained, heavily armed and fanatically motivated assault force.

- It's ok that we didn't catch Jessica removing the classified information from the weapons physics facility, because we succesfuly recovered all of it from a drug house.

Anonymous said...

The local paper is now reporting that at least 18 workers were exposed to radiation, up dramatically from the last claim. Makes you wonder just how extensive the condition really is and just how bad this will eventually turn out. The story is really a stretch to hold together that this was a minor isolated accident. More and more it appears to be symptomatic of systemic issues indicative of failures on several fronts including work control policy and contractor oversight.

Anonymous said...

This LANS/LLNS model is completely broken or has failed to improve an already broken system. Either way we are probably far beyond the point where finding root cause is of any value. The time has come to put the sick cows down. These two national labs need to be broken up into pieces that are more manageable.

Anonymous said...

Aug 31, 8:17am,

I have to agree to this level, the pit production activities at LANL really do not fit with the mission of a "science" and researched focused lab. This should be spun off by NNSA into a different contract, one that can bring in a production rule and rigor based management style company to run it. This is basicially what happened when Sandia was split out of LANL after WWII. Rules and mindset that work and are actually needed in a hazardous production plant do not work in a free thinking lab looking for inovation and risky cutting edge ideas.

Anonymous said...

And, 4:25 PM, "risky cutting edge ideas" do not belong in any location that performs radiological work. Take your "free thinking" to a think tank and as far away from a mission facility as you can get.
Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

It is surprising, but not shocking, for 4:25 PM to state that rules which are needed do not work at LANL due to the culture of 'pure science'. While the practice of ignoring the rules has been obvious to some observers for years, it is still mostly hidden to those living outside of Los Alamos. Since it does not look to be modified anytime soon, one just has to hope that no more major events occur as a result of this flagrant behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the Manhattan Project "risky and cutting edge"?

Were not the early manned space program and Apollo missions "risky and cutting edge"?

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

And, 4:25 PM, "risky cutting edge ideas" do not belong in any location that performs radiological work. Take your "free thinking" to a think tank and as far away from a mission facility as you can get.
Sheesh.

August 31, 2012 6:09 PM"

Uhh I think that is what 4.25pm just said. Try reading it again before spouting off. Reading, it is good for you, others and the world, try it sometime.

Anonymous said...

"It is surprising, but not shocking, for 4:25 PM to state that rules which are needed do not work at LANL due to the culture of 'pure science'. While the practice of ignoring the rules has been obvious to some observers for years, it is still mostly hidden to those living outside of Los Alamos. Since it does not look to be modified anytime soon, one just has to hope that no more major events occur as a result of this flagrant behaviour.

August 31, 2012 6:24 PM"

Epic fail on your partm it has not been obvious to "obvious" to observers or anyone else. Sorry people follow the rules at LANL. Look at the records of LANL saftey and security compared to other labs in the NNSA complex. This has been gone over time and time again on this blog. Get some facts before you blind hatred and ignorance drag you and anyone close to you down. You are a strange sad little troll. I truly feel sorry for you and the people that are your caregivers.

Anonymous said...

Was it someone violating a rule or policy that led to or facilitated the radioactive contamination leaving the facility? Or was it some gap in policy or security, or failsafes not working properly, etc? The former would support the "culture" argument, while the latter could be an indicator of other things.

Does anyone have information regarding radioactive contamination releases/losses for the different labs? Security incidents come in all types and flavors. You might have to live these things happening particularly since LANL handles alot of radioactive material where as LLNL does not for example. So we need to keep things in perspective. Accidents can happen. But rule violations must not.

Anonymous said...

So, the comparables are for LANL, Pantex, Y12?, Kansas City and Savannah River?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the Manhattan Project "risky and cutting edge"?

Were not the early manned space program and Apollo missions "risky and cutting edge"?

August 31, 2012 8:12 PM


There were fatalities in each of those programs also. Not sure that is the metic to select.

Anonymous said...

Was it someone violating a rule or policy that led to or facilitated the radioactive contamination leaving the facility? Or was it some gap in policy or security, or failsafes not working properly, etc? The former would support the "culture" argument, while the latter could be an indicator of other things.

September 1, 2012 2:08 AM

Either way it is a bad day. If not culture, then it highlights management failure in the same manner as the Y-12 security breach that resulted in the removal of numerous layers of management.

Anonymous said...

'Sorry people follow the rules at LANL.'

Was that a Freudian slip? And do NOT sorry people NOT follow the rules at LANL?

Anonymous said...

The scary thing is that, aside from restructuring NNSA, the right fix might require more money. More security, more detectors, more failsafes, more backup systems, more layers, more training. Unfortunate as that may sound, we don't have a choice do we?

Anonymous said...

Considering that the exposures occurred at LANSCE, one might wonder if the culture has changed since Browne was responsible for the facility. Many staff still hold him and his attitudes responsible for the series of cascading events that led to UC loss of the operating contract.

Anonymous said...

Additional information may come out about this incident as a result of the investigations; however, it will be doubtful that anyone looses their job over it. Unlike the upper level housecleaning at Y-12, the sense of senior leader accountability does not appear to extend westward to New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how it works out that way.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any more information on this exposure? A little research might show it to be among the largest number of exposed DOE workers in a single event. While not perhaps the highest level of exposure, the number of workers exposed demands that more information be provided to the public.

Anonymous said...

Looking around for this. I'm sure NNSA has this but is keeping it closed. A timeline of significant releases, contaminations by dose and number of people, release by total quantity per event, etc. open source plus FOIA would be a starting point though I would suspect that someone on the outside has already compiled this information.

What you would hope not to see is release normalized against stockpile size at that time, increasing while security funding in inflation adjusted dollars is going down over the past two decades. Maybe somebody from tri-valley cares has this kind of trend information

Anonymous said...

I'm looking for information on the quantity of radioactive material that is known or estimated to have been released, the isotopes and form, and vector of release. Particularly from sites like Savannah River. Not interested in health related data. Chasing down some leads. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The same culture that gave us sleeping guards at Y-12 gives us unmonitored exits of dozens of contaminated workers from radiation labs at LANL. When will it change?

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