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Nuclear laboratory problems shine light on safety concerns

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2017 | Workers' Compensation

Observers in Ohio and around the country have expressed serious concern about the safety of the nation’s nuclear facilities. Reports of safety violations and lapses at one of the country’s leading nuclear research laboratories have sparked sharp criticism, emphasizing the importance of safety for the lab’s workers and the surrounding environment.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory was where the atomic bomb was developed. Today, it remains one of the top nuclear laboratories in the world, with world-renowned scientists and researchers. However, a series of serious safety lapses have bedeviled the lab. While the lab is almost back to full capacity, its work was suspended in 2013 due to safety issues.

Some of the problems have concerned plutonium handling and the management of radioactive nuclear waste. In June 2016, technicians inappropriately disposed of a liquid containing plutonium in a way that posed a threat of fire or chemical reactions. In 2011, other technicians placed plutonium rods close together for a photo, which could have sparked a nuclear chain reaction. On another occasion, the lab improperly packaged radioactive waste, causing a 2014 radiation leak in an underground storage facility.

These issues are accompanied by concerns about the safety of the aging building itself. Fire protection and alarm systems in the lab date back to the 1970s. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy is seeking to expand plutonium pit production in the facility.

Workers in facilities which regularly deal with toxic or radioactive materials could be at risk of sustaining a workplace injury or incurring an occupational disease. Those who have been harmed in this manner might want to meet with a workers’ compensation attorney to learn how to seek benefits under their employer’s insurance coverage.