News Release

Safety Alarms at Nuclear Weapons Factory


The Los Angeles Times featured a front-page piece on Wednesday headlined “Safety Alarms Raised at Nuclear Weapons Plant,” which reports: “Electrical failures have shut down the plant. The roof has leaked. Decrepit machinery dates back more than 40 years. Safety lapses led inspectors to levy fines twice within two years. And employees, under deadline pressure, complain they are often worked past the point of exhaustion. …

“If this factory were producing medical devices or refining gasoline, the conditions would be serious enough. But this is where they work on nuclear bombs. …

“Federal safety inspectors found that the flawed operation ‘increased the opportunities for dropping all or part of the explosive during handling and hence increased the potential for a violent reaction,’ a finding that ran against assurances such a detonation was virtually impossible. …

“The backdrop to problems at Pantex [in Texas] is a growing concern that the Energy Department has mismanaged the nuclear weapons program.” [Full story]

The following have closely followed safety and security procedures at the major U.S. nuclear weapons facilities:

The Los Angeles Times piece quotes Alvarez, a former deputy assistant secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies: “You can’t run a plant on glittering platitudes and generalities and call that a safety program. … A nuclear detonation accident is a low probability, but it is not incredible.”
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Kelley is executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) located in Livermore, California. She said today: “There are certainly widespread safety and security problems here at Lawrence Livermore [nuclear weapons laboratory] as well. Instead of concentrating on solving the existing problems and drawing down our massive stockpile of nuclear weapons, the government is focusing on building new weapons.”
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Coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Hutchison has written extensively about the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee. He said today: “We have freedom of information requests going back years trying to get documents about the safety of the facility here. It’s operating in an unsafe fashion — it’s the perfect time to end the bomb-making business and live up to our own obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to draw down our stockpile.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167