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Friday, July 13, 2018

ABQ Journal editorial on Triad taking over LANL

ABQ Journal editorial on Triad taking over LANL

The big news is that inadequate federal performance reviews and bad press over safety lapses at LANL didn’t cost the University of California a piece of the contract. UC has been part of the lab’s management since the Manhattan Project, first alone at the top and then as part of a private consortium with Bechtel and two other companies since 2006.

In any case, UC went with new partners and won again. Now it’s time to see if LANL can stop generating bad news

It’s always seemed odd to those of us with only an outside view of the lab – where so many brilliant scientists and engineers come to work – that many of its public failures come from not following simple, factory-like instructions.

The WIPP accident famously resulted from using a wheat-based kitty litter to absorb liquid in a waste drum with nitrates – a mix that anyone with a basic knowledge of should have known would lead to a reaction. Indeed, “People with deep expertise of the chemistry of nuclear waste weren’t necessarily deeply embedded.”

Someone at the lab sent plutonium across the country using a commercial air cargo service, a mistake that cost the contractors another $3.1 million in government fees.

If computer makers can make tiny chips by creating dust-free environments, LANL managers should be able to impose similar rigor when handling dangerous radioactive materials.

The lab has a lot of important things to do, but paying attention to blue-collar details should be job number one when Triad takes over in November.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1195856/uc-hangs-in-there-at-los-alamos-ex-new-team-takes-over-management-of-the-laboratory-in-november.html

14 comments:

Anonymous said...


The people at the ABQ Journal are a bit slow.


In the article is states

"It’s always seemed odd to those of us with only an outside view of the lab – where so many brilliant scientists and engineers come to work – that many of its public failures come from not following simple, factory-like instructions."

Ok fair question how could this be true, hmm, let me think...hell I don't know.

Now the very next paragraph says.

"The WIPP accident famously resulted from using a wheat-based kitty litter to absorb liquid in a waste drum with nitrates – a mix that anyone with a basic knowledge of should have known would lead to a reaction. Indeed, “People with deep expertise of the chemistry of nuclear waste weren’t necessarily deeply embedded.”"

Ok we now have the answer!. Basically it says that the "brilliant scientists and engineers" are not consulted when it comes to many decisions at LANL. The problems at LANL have nothing to do
with the workforce. Shocking revelation I know, whoever would have thought that someplace with a
strong workforce could fail because of bad management? Something like that has NEVER happened in the world before.

So ABQ Journal answered their own question. Did they get it? Probably not it is simply easier to be confused how can a place with smart people can have problems?


Anonymous said...

For sure LANL has been mismanaged for a long, long time. Maybe, just maybe the new management will consider that the workforce is actually comprised of some of the world’s most talented, most motivated, most patriotic people. Instead of habitually throwing them under the bus, they might just consider working with them.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe, just maybe the new management will consider that the workforce is actually comprised of some of the world’s most talented, most motivated, most patriotic people."

Don't forget that they are also the world's most modest people!

Anonymous said...



" "Maybe, just maybe the new management will consider that the workforce is actually comprised of some of the world’s most talented, most motivated, most patriotic people."

Don't forget that they are also the world's most modest people!

July 15, 2018 at 4:09 AM"

I think we can all agree that the scientific and engineering workforce at LANL has always been top notch, saying so is not the problem. The problem is that they are either not consulted or conveniently blamed. Addressing both these issues will go far in fixing problems at LANL.

Perhaps some people are simply bitter that they did not have the skill level or expertize to make it at LANL, but being bitter about that and saying the LANL technical workforce is arrogant is simply irrelevant to any actual issues at LANL, particularly when the public wants the worlds most talented and motivated people to work at the NNSA labs. The public does not want bitter mediocre people who hate excellence and cannot take responsibility for their lives. Some ex-LANL employees are ex for a reason and that is a good thing and I am sure the 4:09 AM poster also agrees with this.

Now let us focus on what the real issues are at LANL and make the place better for everyone.

Anonymous said...

the public wants the worlds most talented and motivated people to work at the NNSA labs.

July 15, 2018 at 12:56 PM

The public has not cared, or even been aware of, the NNSA labs. Maybe the public cared about Oppenheimer and the Manhattan project, but that was more than 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

July 15, 2018 at 12:56 PM

Actually "the public," in general, doesn't know LANL exists or what it does. Even the phrase "nuclear weapon" brings frowns of confusion. I recently had a conversation with a very successful and knowledgeable (in his profession) local new-car salesman who thought the US still tested nuclear weapons above ground in the Pacific islands, due to a History Channel show he had recently watched. That's about the level of awareness "the public" has. Claiming your view of things is correct because you know what "the public" wants is just specious garbage. At least cite a reputable national poll or something.

Anonymous said...

The scientific and engineering workforce are indeed never consulted, ever. Communications and orders flow only one way, from the top down. That fact is at the core of the system of management of today’s LANL. It’s a very rigid, hierarchical structure, with people at the top feeling omnipotent and the worker bees completely powerless. If NNSA really wanted to change the Lab culture for the better, this is the aspect of the culture that needs to be changed first. It will go a long way in eliminating future drum explosions.

Anonymous said...

In earlier days, the free flow of information DID in fact go both ways, as the managers were also competent scientists and peers, they relied on collaboration to make sure no mistakes were made.

Indeed, under UC care there were alot of procurement problems, being in charge of spending boat loads of tax payer money is seductive, LLNL also had similar procurement problems, although less public than LANL.

However under the UC the "kitty litter" incident would have never happened, this FUBAR happened under Bechtel watch. The rigid and hierarchical structure mentioned above was implemented under Bechtel management. Same thing at LLNS, You were allowed your opinion or to bring a concern to management, they smiled, nodded their heads and we never heard from them again.... we had a saying for that treatment......."NOTED AND IGNORED"

Message to NNSA....Collapse the LLNS contract and move on, that "consortium" is a disaster....



Anonymous said...

7:05 nailed it. In recent decades, the LANL c-students have all been managers.

Anonymous said...

It will go a long way in eliminating future drum explosions.

July 15, 2018 at 7:05 PM

Except of course, that there were no "drum explosions."

Anonymous said...

Except of course, that there were no "drum explosions."

July 16, 2018 at 5:56 PM

Of course not, we've all been imagining things. NNSA spent half a billion to reopen WIPP for no reason whatsoever.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-mexico-nuclear-dump-20160819-snap-story.html

"When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations."

Anonymous said...

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-mexico-nuclear-dump-20160819-snap-story.html

"When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations."

Despite the story from the LA-times there was still no drum explosion. Who in their right might would have thought the LA-Times might get something wrong?

Anonymous said...

I really hate it when I light an M-80 and it goes "Fzzzzt" instead of "BOOM!" However, the damage to surroundings is about the same, so why quibble over "explosion" vs deflagration?

Anonymous said...

"I really hate it when I light an M-80 and it goes "Fzzzzt" instead of "BOOM!" However, the damage to surroundings is about the same"

It is not the same, one is a explosion the other is not. Very different, here is a test, take am M-80 in your hand and ask yourself would rather it go BOOM or Fzzzt. Now do you understand that that they are different, very very different.

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