Review: Los Alamos lab lapses on keeping secrets

AP News
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Posted: Jan 28, 2015 7:48 PM

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee misclassified information that should have been kept secret but instead was made public, federal investigators said.

A review by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General found that an official at the nuclear weapons lab didn't adequately protect classified information in six instances, The Santa Fe New Mexican (http://goo.gl/465YUd) reported Tuesday.

Those included an employee's remarks to a public gathering in which the employee unknowingly included material that should have been classified. Another involved an employee's article that included material that should have been classified.

The review said the classification officer was lax about keeping his staff current on guidelines for determining what information must be kept secret.

Specific details about the classified material weren't provided.

The report criticizes the consortium of private contractors that manages the lab for ignoring the problems.

"We learned that LANL's Classification Officer had not always adequately protected and controlled classified information resulting in the misclassification and improper disclosure of sensitive, national security information," DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman wrote in a draft memo to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The memo was obtained by The New Mexican.

The report does not identify the classification officer who was investigated, and the lab would not identify who the report was referring to. About eight months ago, LANL advertised the position, which pays nearly $200,000 a year, as open.

"The lab is looking at addressing the issues raised in the report through a set of corrective actions," a lab spokesman said in a written statement.

The report comes as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board released a separate report that said eight LANL workers "experienced a contamination event" at the lab's main plutonium facility last month.

That report said the workers were exposed while fixing equipment in the plutonium-238 area.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com