Inspection Report - DOE-OIG-20-53

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September 9, 2020

The Department of Energy’s Management of Explosive Materials at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Department of Energy manages high explosives across its complex of National Laboratories and other facilities to carry out elements of its mission.  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), under its Weapons Complex Integration Program, conducts non-nuclear explosives testing for nuclear weapon detonation research, as well as the Stockpile Stewardship Program.  As such, LLNL conducts high explosives research and experiments at the High Explosive Application Facility, Site 300, and the Joint Laboratory Office – Nevada at the Nevada National Security Site.

We initiated this inspection to determine whether LLNL is managing and storing explosive materials in accordance with Federal and Department of Energy requirements.  The inspection examined the management of explosives materials, specifically explosives controls, inventory, and storage from fiscal year 2016 through 2019.  There were 4 selection groups with the total population of 6,419 explosive materials.  The inspection was performed from July 2019 through August 2020.  We conducted the inspection at LLNL in Livermore, California and the Nevada National Security Site outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

We found that LLNL managers adequately tracked and stored their explosives but did not fully comply with Federal and Departmental requirements.  Specifically, LLNL did not adhere to 41 Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart 109, Department of Energy Property Management Regulations, since it did not have detailed procedures for conducting physical inventories of explosive materials and did not have personnel other than the custodians of the explosive materials conduct the required annual inventory.  We found that LLNL operated multiple inventory systems, and the use of differently formatted systems may not demonstrate efficient operations.  We also observed signs of physical deterioration at Site 300, and that LLNL may incur future storage space challenges if not actively managed. 

We ae not making recommendations at this time.  We identified the need for the development of procedures for conducting physical inventories of explosive materials and for ensuring that the inventories are performed by personnel other than the custodians of the explosives.  We also suggest that LLNL consider standardizing the inventory systems across the different operational programs to track high explosives inventories, take proactive steps to maintain the physical conditions of storage facilities, and actively manage the amount of explosives stored in magazines in order to address potential physical storage challenges.