Se­cu­rity gets lax dur­ing VVIP vis­its at New Mex­ico nu­clear lab


ALos Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory em­ployee with re­spon­si­bil­ity for site se­cu­rity is charg­ing that the fa­cil­ity sus­pended some safety pro­ce­dures dur­ing VIP vis­its in 2011, and then af­ter he com­plained about the prac­tice re­tal­i­ated against him be­cause of his out­spo­ken­ness, the Al­bu­querque Jour­nal has re­ported.

In a law­suit filed in fed­eral court against the nu­clear-weapons lab­o­ra­tory in New Mex­ico, Michael Irvin al­leges he was de­moted from his job as a se­cu­rity man­ager in the LANL di­rec­tor’s of­fice af­ter he crit­i­cised to his bosses the prac­tice of lift­ing cer­tain un­spec­i­fied se­cu­rity prac­tices at the lab­o­ra­tory dur­ing spring and sum­mer 2011 vis­its to the site by im­por­tant in­di­vid­u­als.

Irv­ing’s law­suit as­serts he has the right to crit­i­cise breaches of lab­o­ra­tory se­cu­rity prac­tices that im­pact safety around nu­cle­ar­weapon ma­te­ri­als. His suit claims he has been pun­ished for his whis­tle-blow­ing with lost wages and ben­e­fits and that he was branded a “trou­ble­maker” and “mal­con­tent” by his man­ager.

The lab­o­ra­tory is home to a num­ber of sen­si­tive nu­clear-weapons projects such as the pro­duc­tion of plu­to­nium trig­gers that ini­ti­ate war­head ex­plo­sions.

The se­cu­rity prac­tices of the broader US nu­clear-weapons com­plex – which in­cludes sites in Ne­vada, Ten­nessee, New Mex­ico and Cal­i­for­nia – has come un­der height­ened scru­tiny in the last year fol­low­ing the high-pro­file sum­mer 2012 break-in by peace ac­tivists of a se­cured area of the Y-12 Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­plex.

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