U.S. nuclear lab has history of safety lapses

New Jersey residents may have heard that there have been numerous safety lapses at a U.S. nuclear laboratory in the past few, according to a nonprofit journalism organization. The safety issues caused work at the facility to be temporarily suspended in 2013.

In a series of reports, the Center for Public Integrity outlined multiple serious safety lapses at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, the facility that created the atomic bomb. These lapses included plutonium spills mopped up with improper materials, plutonium rods placed dangerously close to each other and the inadequate storage of nuclear waste. The problems caused the National Nuclear Security Administration to hold back approximately $82 million in payments to facility contractors between 2013 and 2016.

However, an internal memo by Los Alamos officials said the problems have been addressed and the facility is almost fully operational after its shutdown four years ago. It also said its employees should be proud of the laboratory’s history of success and have faith in the facility’s ability to safely manufacture plutonium cores for nuclear bombs.

Safety failures at a nuclear facility could cause employees to suffer toxic exposure to radiation and chemicals, which could lead to both acute and chronic health problems. Employees injured in such an accident have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits pay all medical expenses required to treat a work-related injury. They also provide disability payments while an employee is unable to work. Many injured employees find it beneficial to consult with an attorney before filing their workers’ compensation claim to ensure that it is properly prepared.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Scrutiny Intensifies Over Safety at US Nuclear Weapons Lab“, Associated Press, June 21, 2017

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