Nuclear security workers anonymously ask Congress for probe

Employees at Los Alamos site office say they are concerned about adverse working conditions, a hostile working environment and low morale.

A group of current and former employees at the site office managing the contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is asking Congress to investigate health, safety, security and management problems, according to a government watchdog group.

It is unclear how many employees are asking for the investigation because they are not publicly revealing their involvement.

"Due to fear of retaliation by the Department of Energy management, we are sending you an anonymous letter and requesting that Congress initiate an investigation into mismanagement at the Los Alamos Site Office of the Department of Energy," according to an undated letter to Congress widely distributed Wednesday by the Project On Government Oversight.

Pete Stockton, a senior investigator at POGO, said they received the letter two days ago and have been investigating similar claims for several years.

The letter's authors identify themselves in it as "a group of current and former employees of the Los Alamos Site Office and the New Mexico DOE complex" who have "a sum of more that (sic) 100 years of experience."

"Our concerns are not unique to our group but are shared by a major portion of the Site Office employees," the letter states. "We are so concerned with the existing adverse working conditions, hostile work environment and low worker morale that we felt it necessary to bring these concerns to your attention."

The Los Alamos laboratory is a national Energy Department site but is managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a private company.

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate security breaches at Los Alamos and the committee has held 12 hearings in eight years.

The last committee hearing on Jan. 30 highlighted an incident where a subcontractor for the laboratory removed 1,588 pages of classified documents from a vault and accessed classified computers to download documents.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, said the committee's GAO request "amounts to unnecessary and counterproductive piling-on." He said Energy and the laboratory "are working to implement reforms now at Los Alamos."

A call to the National Nuclear Security Administration public affairs office was not returned at presstime.

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