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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Investigation sought

Legal papers served in Washington asked Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to investigate “substantial and specific danger to employees or to public health or safety” due to “technical failure and incidents” at the High Explosive Application Facility (HEAF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

According to attorney Tony Bothwell, his client Anthony T. Rivera, a 28-year veteran of the lab, said he was harassed and fired in October 2013, after reporting the hazards and other violations to lab management. Bothwell added, the Department of Energy Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) dragged out his case until March 2015 when it said it would not investigate. Rivera asks Secretary Munoz to either order reinstatement and compensatory damages or order OHA to conduct an investigation and hearing on the matter.

A California administrative judge who conducted a hearing found that lab management gave false reasons for firing Rivera.

Rivera appealed to the Secretary of Energy pursuant to whistleblower protection provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations, 10 C.F.R. Part 708."


Anonymous said...

Anthony Rivera Comment 2 of 2

Preventing additional accidents at LANL and LLNL

I understand the LANL Director made a 7-13-15 statement regarding the "Arc-Flash Event". I would like to comment on his guidance which would apply to Livermore as well:

"...Perhaps most important of all, these interactions will underscore that every Laboratory worker has the authority and responsibility to stop work if they see something that is potentially unsafe, or believe that some aspect of the work is unsafe. This authority and responsibility extends to any area of the Laboratory, not just areas where a worker might normally work.."

I support the above statement by the LANL Director. However, to address root causes of Lab employee hesitancy or failure to always comply with this guidance needs work at least within the LLNS management culture. I never worked for LANS. Within LLNS employment, too often the expectation of LLNS employees for raising safety or other concerns BEFORE an accident or incident is negative career blowback. Here are 2 examples:

Example 1:

I was told by LLNS senior engineering managers "A" and "B", the “red flag” LLNL B327 “Non-Destructive Testing” Facility concerns I identified was something “I was not assigned to do”.

Example 2:

My HEAF concerns were spun as "disruptive" by LLNS senior engineering manager "C" in an audio recorded discussion of my California Unemployment Appeal hearing in January of 2014.


“Ah, you also indicated there was some disruptive behavior that was that became an
issue ah, what was the well, where was the disruption occurring?”

LLNS senior engineering manager "C":

"It was at a facility called the High Explosives Application Facility (HEAF)”.


“And what did you understand was going on with Mr. Rivera?”

LLNS senior engineering manager "C":

“So Anthony, I mean Anthony used to work over in this facility, so he was familiar with the people and, and he was looking for opportunities for a job, but I think the, the folks that worked in the facility, Anthony was being, being ah, by their characterization fairly aggressive in, in trying to help them with problems that they really didn’t want help with”.

Note: HEAF at the time I raised the concerns referenced above was under an unrelated DOE IG investigation “DOE IG INS-O-13-06”. This report clearly identifies weak areas in safety, security, potential misuse or theft of explosives, weakness in access controls, training, inventory controls, and contradictory Facility procedures.

There is an apparent disconnect between a very appropriate safety message by the LANL Director, and the load test or follow through of that very same safety message with LLNS management. The safety message being directly applicable to both Labs. If left unaddressed by DOE/NNSA, I fear more accidents will needlessly occur in the DOE/NNSA Complex. This concern was communicated to the Secretary of Energy.

Anonymous said...

Comment 1 of 2

I am Anthony T. Rivera. I was a 29 year career employee at LLNL. As DOE OHA encourages, on several occasions starting on 4-23-14, I attempted to resolve this DOE OHA complaint informally with the Director of LLNL and President of LLNS. LLNS management refused all of my informal resolution proposals.

The objectivity of the NNSA Livermore Field Office

Through my first hand experiences and FOIA released NNSA documents, I am alarmed at the level of enabling and protection repeatedly provided to LLNS by the NNSA Livermore Field Office staff regarding my safety concerns and dismissal. In good faith I had reached out to the NNSA Livermore Field Office Leadership on several occasions before and after my October 2013 dismissal.

This is relevant to my case because before and after my 2013 dismissal from LLNS, concerns that had been directly communicated to the DOE IG (HQ), were subsequently forwarded to the NNSA Livermore Field Office for "evaluation". For each concern, the NNSA Livermore Field Office relied on communications with LLNS management and I was never contacted for LLNS document or testimony cross examination.

Example 1:

One (FOIA released) December 2013 NNSA Livermore Field Office document addressed to NNSA HQ Internal Affairs regarding my HEAF concerns stated:

“… I met with the LLNS Staff Relations Specialist and she related an extensive description of the events surrounding Mr. Rivera’s termination from employment. I find her description of events to be credible…”


"...It seems questionable that an employee who never had job responsibilities at HEAF would be in a position to assess and report on safety problems there..."

In contrast to what the above NNSA Livermore Field Office memo stated, I worked in HEAF for 16 years (1990-2006), and I worked again in HEAF in 2013 in support of the JASPER program. At HEAF, I was responsible for identifying an unintentional laser initiated, high explosive detonation scenario not addressed in HEAF procedures, that was reviewed and subsequently included in the HEAF FSP. Prior to the FSP update, HEAF personnel could have approached high explosives subject to a high pulsed power laser prompted, "latent detonation" causing injuries or fatalities.

Example 2:

On 5-7-15, I was informed by the DOE IG, "complaint" 15-0302-C relating to my "LLNL B327 Non-Destructive Test Facility" (MED) safety concerns was closed. Neither I or a former LLNS employee witness were contacted by the NNSA Livermore Field Office staff regarding the set of safety concerns supplied to the DOE IG 2 months prior. I mentioned this concern to the DOE IG on Sunday 5-17-15. On this particular 5-17-15 email to the DOE IG, I cc'd Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz, (USAF) Undersecretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. Within 48 hours, on Tuesday 5-19-15, this former LLNS employee was finally contacted by the NNSA Livermore Field Office to discuss technical and safety concerns with the LLNL B327 Non-Destructive Testing Facility, after the case (forwarded to the NNSA Field Office for review) was closed. This former employee confirmed my B327 concerns and his declaration was forwarded to the DOE Secretary.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see that of the few Hispanics that work at LLNL, they treat them like shit.

Anonymous said...

"...Sad to see that of the few Hispanics that work at LLNL, they treat them like sh _ _."

If you do a "microfiche" search of the local papers (pre-internet) from the 90s on Anthony Rivera at LLNL, you might be more upset.

Anonymous said...

Another Press Release on the DOE Whistleblower case against LLNS

Exchange Monitor/ Weapons Complex Morning Briefing:

"Former Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Employee
Alleges Whistleblower Retaliation"

Anonymous said...

As DOE OHA encourages, on several occasions starting on 4-23-14, I attempted to resolve this DOE OHA complaint informally with the Director of LLNL and President of LLNS. LLNS management refused all of my informal resolution proposals.

As stated in my affidavit:

“…My first hand experiences suggest DOE/NNSA implementation of DOE “whistleblower” policy, actually enables and protects abusive and unlawful Contractor employment practices. The DOE defined objective assessment and oversight responsibilities of the NNSA Livermore Field Office (LFO) were not applied in my case. This memorandum and the documents referenced, indicate the NNSA LFO and the contractor LLNS, have in practice, administratively fused together…”

The serious concerns I forwarded to the Secretary of Energy regarding Lawrence Livermore National Security (LLNS) and the NNSA Livermore Field Office are numerous and significant. As described in my affidavit, if these concerns are left unaddressed they can impact, or may continue to impact, effective oversight and safety within Complex.

DOE Contractors that fire employees on legitimate and supportable grounds do not require the use of secretive Dismissal Review Boards (DRB) used at LLNS where the employee in question is denied the opportunity to be present in order to cross-examine management testimony, documentation, or hearsay. The DRB tool used at LLNS, can serve to prevent disclosure of DOE defined retaliation against DOE Contractor workers and undermines and circumvents the DOE “zero-tolerance for retaliation” policy. When the reasons for my 2013 dismissal from LLNS were flushed out in 2014 before an Administrative Law Judge he ruled:

"...The employer has not sustained its burden to show that the claimant's conduct was willful or wanton under the circumstances and therefore has not shown misconduct. Accordingly, the employer discharged the claimant for reasons other than misconduct..."

Anthony Rivera

Anonymous said...

Is the LLNS Dismissal Review Board (DRB) purpose and process clearly defined in Section H or other LLNS policy documentation for employees to review and potentially prepare for?

Anonymous said...

I thought staff relations was all about retaliation. I've seen them called up to take care of problem employees and save the ass of managers who done inappropriate things. What's new about retaliation at LLNL?

Anonymous said...

7-31-15 Press Release from NS&D

Former Lawrence Livermore Employee Alleges Whistleblower Retaliation
Alissa Tabirian
NS&D Monitor

"Former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) employee Anthony Rivera filed a complaint to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz earlier this month alleging that he had been fired after reporting hazards at the ..."

Anonymous said...

The NNSA Livermore Field Office Manager through 2013 for LLNS, now has Contractor oversight responsibilities for LANS effective January 2014.

Anonymous said...

It is doubtful we will witness a reversal of DOE Contractor retaliation until and unless DOE Contractor managers receive swift corrective feedback from DOE, and can no longer find shelter from their in house Staff Relations department. Until then, expect more of the same.

Anonymous said...

Moniz will: 1. Protect himself 2. Protect the Lab Management 3. Protect his family. Done. Any questions?

Anonymous said...

Anthony. Contact the following people at LANL: Chuck Montano, Joe Gutierrez, and Manny Trujillo. All in a string of of shitty treatment Hispanics at the Labs. Been like that for years and will continue in the out years.

Anonymous said...

"...Moniz will:..Protect the Lab Management..."

"Protecting the Lab Management" could mean saving LLNS from a systematic deposition phase where their position unravels creating further mismanagement exposure.

Anonymous said...

"POGO and Partners Urge SEC to Strengthen Whistleblower Program"

"...Retaliation against whistleblowers is a quiet and growing epidemic. In a 2012 supplement to its National Business Ethics Survey, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found that a near recordsetting 22% of employees who reported misconduct faced retaliation, up from 12% in 2007.[1] More than a third of those who declined to report misconduct pointed to fear of retaliation as the reason for their silence. A culture in which employees are retaliated against or fear to speak up is a cancer that slowly grows but consistently kills and has been responsible for countless highprofile corporate scandals. Most alarming, increases in the incidence of retaliation are outpacing the overall rate of increases in Whistleblowing disclosures. Various other studies confirm the prevalence of retaliation and fear of retaliation in the corporate workplace.[2]..."

Anonymous said...

"Retaliation: When whistleblowers become victims"

Anonymous said...

Anyone who whistle blows at LANL end up being beat up in the parking lots at titty bars in Santa Fe.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who whistle blows at LANL end up being beat up in the parking lots at titty bars in Santa Fe.

August 15, 2015 at 5:18 AM"

I thought getting drunk, crashing into somebody, and starting a fight with that person gets you beat up. Another POGO screwup.


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