NNSA Memo Reveals TA-55 Security System Problems

A sample of surveillance cameras. Photo by Hustvedt (wikimedia commons)

Staff Report

A report came out this morning that a new $213 million security system at Los Alamos National Laboratory has major problems that will delay the system’s implementation. 

The new security system was undergoing final “commissioning” tests when several serious problems were discovered, according to the report published in the Albuquerque Journal.

The security project is managed by Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), which operates LANL for the National Nuclear Security Administration. 

The new system is designed to increase security at Technical Area 55, where plutonium research and manufacturing is done for nuclear weapons and other nuclear related research and development projects.  The primary components of the project include a Perimeter Intrusion Detection, Assessment, and Delay System, an East Vehicle and Pedestrian Entry Control Facility, Utility Infrastructure, and West Vehicle Access port, according to the NNSA.

A key problem discovered recently is described in the Journal as “improperly installed fiber optic duct work” that was installed by a lab subcontractor in 2010.

The Journal’s information comes from an internal NNSA memo, which indicated that NNSA had warned the lab as far back as 2010 about potential problems completing the project on time and on budget.

The Journal report states that the cost overrun from the project problems could reach a preliminary estimate of $25 million and would include the cost of extra security needed to secure the plutonium facility without the new system in operation. 

The internal NNSA memo apparently included an option being considered to cover the cost overrun that would be to cut the management fee paid to LANS, LLC.

LANL spokesperson Kevin Roark issued the following statement this morning:

“The Laboratory discovered and reported to the NNSA a construction defect from the 2010 time frame, and a pair of separate technical issues, resulting in a completion delay for the TA-55 Plutonium Facility security perimeter upgrade project. This delay does not impact the site’s security of its nuclear materials. The length of the delay has not yet been determined. The Laboratory is working with NNSA to develop a solution that keeps the delay as short as practical and the costs as low as possible. The Lab remains committed to its national security mission.”

The Journal story reported that according to the internal NNSA memo, a “team of accountants” is being dispatched by the NNSA to the project in order to hold the lab “accountable for poor project management.”

To read the entire Albuquerque Journal report, click HERE.


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