March 20, 2013

Inspection Report - Radiological Waste Operations in Area G at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos) has a national security mission that includes science, engineering and technology related to radioactive and hazardous materials such as plutonium, americium, asbestos and lead.  Material Disposal Area G (Area G), located in Technical Area 54, is one of Los Alamos' active disposal areas for low-level radioactive waste.  To help ensure that operations are conducted in a safe and efficient manner, Los Alamos developed a program to integrate management and radiological waste operations work practices in Area G.  Assessments completed by the Los Alamos Field Office and the Department’s Office of Enforcement and Oversight, Office of Health, Safety and Security in 2011 identified operational problems that could adversely impact safety at Los Alamos.  The inspection found that Los Alamos developed corrective actions designed to address safety issues identified during the 2011 safety assessments.  However, we identified opportunities for further improvements regarding training, the consistency of Area G operational activities with safety requirements, and updating safety-related documents.  For instance, we found that seven individuals who worked in Area G did not complete the required safety training, and an additional two individuals' training files were not updated with the employees' most current training information.  Also, some Area G operational activities were not conducted in a manner that was consistent with specific operational safety requirements.  In several observed instances, Los Alamos did not ensure Area G operated in a manner that supported the adequate protection of the workers and the environment, consistent with the required safety standards and operational safety requirements.  In response to our finding, management generally agreed with the recommendations and indicated it was in the process of implementing or completing corrective actions to ensure that Area G operations are conducted in a safe manner.

Topic: Environmental Cleanup