Inspection Report: DOE-OIG-18-20

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February 20, 2018

Los Alamos National Laboratory Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program

In December 1999, the Department of Energy established a Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program to reduce worker exposure to beryllium at facilities managed by the Department and its contractors.  According to the Department, exposure to beryllium can cause sensitization or chronic beryllium disease, an often debilitating and sometimes fatal lung condition.  Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 850, Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program (10 CFR 850), requires Department contractors including Los Alamos to manage and control worker exposure to beryllium.  Los Alamos implemented a Federally-approved Procedure 101-21 Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program (Prevention Program) which defines the requirements for working with beryllium. 

From 2009 to 2015, several internal and external entities assessed Los Alamos' compliance with its Prevention Program citing concerns with the beryllium inventory completeness and hazard assessment documentation.  The inventory documents the locations of beryllium operations and potential beryllium contamination.  Due to the significant risk to the work force of beryllium exposure, we initiated this inspection to determine whether Los Alamos implemented an effective Prevention Program.

We found that Los Alamos did not fully implement an effective Prevention Program.  Although Los Alamos closed a number of corrective actions designed to address deficiencies identified in previous assessments, our work revealed that many of the deficiencies continued to exist in its Prevention Program.

These issues occurred because in 2016 Los Alamos followed a new procedure which had not been approved by the Field Office instead of following its approved Prevention Program.  In response to an Occupational Safety and Health Division 2015 assessment finding, Los Alamos implemented the Interim Operational Procedure which reduced or eliminated many of the controls required by the Prevention Program.  As a result, Los Alamos did not fully implement the requirements of its Federally-approved Prevention Program.

Topic: National Security and Safety