The Energy Department could have saved $6.6 million on five sites it manages, if it took "more aggressive energy conservation steps," and better prioritized projects with "rapid payback periods and little or no required upfront investment," the Energy Department Office of Inspector General found.
Energy Department facilities have failed to follow their own safety procedures, storing dangerous explosives near combustible materials and inspecting shipments of explosives in locations too close to the public, the agency's inspector general warns.
The Energy Department stockpiles a significant amount of explosives at facilities across the country to help facilitate its research work. The agency's inspector general, its internal watchdog, conducted spot inspections recently at the Sandia, Idaho and Los Alamos national laboratories as well as a DOE's Savannah River facility in South Carolina and uncovered several concerns.
State environmental officials have reached an agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to expedite the cleanup of thousands of barrels of radioactive waste.
Environment Department Secretary Jim Martin told a special meeting of the lab's Citizens Advisory Board that it has agreed to have all the barrels currently stored above ground removed by June 30, 2014. Any newly generated waste will have to be removed by the end of 2014.
The toxic waste made national headlines this summer when a massive wildfire raged near the premier nuclear facility for more than a week, at one point lapping at the edges of lab property.
At Los Alamos National Laboratory, scientists and engineers refer to their planned new $6 billion nuclear lab by its clunky acronym, CMRR, short for Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility. But as a work in progress for three decades and with hundreds of millions of dollars already spent, nomenclature is among the minor issues.
Questions continue to swirl about exactly what kind of nuclear and plutonium research will be done there, whether the lab is really necessary, and — perhaps most important — will it be safe, or could it become New Mexico's equivalent of Japan's Fukushima?
As federal officials prepare the final design plans for the controversial and very expensive lab, increased scrutiny is being placed on what in recent years has been discovered to be a greater potential for a major earthquake along the fault lines that have carved out the stunning gorges, canyons and valleys that surround the premier U.S. nuclear weapons facility in northern New Mexico.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said the NRC can't consider a public hearing on the San Onofre nuclear plant until June, when an appeal period of an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruling ends.