Wired: Nuke Lab Bunglers’ $11 Billion Reward

Danger Room – Wired Blogs

Nuke Lab Bunglers’ $11 Billion Reward

Los Alamos gets most of the headlines. But, in recent years, security and safety at its nuclear sister, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been God-awful, too. Barely-armed guards, inhaled plutonium, — things got so bad that the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration said he wanted to start shipping weapons-grade materials out of the lab by 2014.

With all those violations and all those breaches, you’d think that the Energy Department might be a little reluctant to renew the University of California’s $1.6 billion-per-year contract to run the lab. Guess not. A consortium led by the University and Bechtel has won the bid to operate Livermore for at least the next seven years.

It’s a replay, essentially, of what happened to the Los Alamos contract. And the nuke watchdogs at the Project On Government Oversight are slapping their heads in disgust.

“Obviously, past performance means nothing to the officials at the Department of Energy,” POGO senior investigator Peter Stockton says in a statement. “It is ridiculous that after years of security breaches and safety debacles DOE would decide that the best way to fix these problems is by hiring the same incompetent contractors. This decision truly fits the definition of ‘insanity.’”

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