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After more than seven years of work and $213 million, the new security system at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s most important nuclear weapons manufacturing site doesn’t work, according to an article from the Albuquerque Journal.
A lab spokesperson acknowledged that the project suffered from construction issues, and an internal government memo suggests longstanding federal concerns about how Los Alamos has managed the project.
The project itself was intended to provide tighter security at the lab’s Technical Area 55, where plutonium research is done and nuclear bomb parts are made, and it was scheduled to be finished in early 2013, but it is now delayed indefinitely, the article reports.
A preliminary estimate puts the cost overrun at $21 million to $25 million, including the cost of extra security needed because the current system is not functioning. One option for paying for the overruns is to slash the management free paid to Los Alamos National Security LLC, the Bechtel-University of California corporate partnership managing the nuclear weapons design and manufacturing lab for the federal government,the Journal states. In FY 2011-12, the management fee was $76 million.
“The performance on this project has been unacceptable, and we will hold LANS fully accountable for all costs,” says NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha in the article. The system includes sensors, alarms and “denial systems” according to another spokesperson. The upgrade is part of a widespread federal effort to upgrade nuclear security after 9/11.