In a January 24th letter sent by the Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments to Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (Livermore Lab’s management entity), the DOE office announced that it is opening an investigation into an April incident in which radioactive contamination from the nuclear weapons lab was found on and off-site.
The letter is scant on details, however it refers to an otherwise previously undisclosed, “March 2023 loss of contamination control and the discovery of contaminated property both on and offsite, including at a Lawrence Livermore National Security worker’s residence, on April 8, 2023.”
In a January 31, 2024 article by Jeanita Lyman at the Livermore Vine, the NNSA commented that “a team composed of 13 workers…were exposed to the radioactive material iodine-125 during a trip to an international site in March 2023, which concerns about the exposure being raised upon their return to the United States… All team members were tested for exposure… Results for some of them showed a detectible uptake of I-125, but at levels well below regulatory and administrative limits, and well below levels of any clinical concern… NNSA Nuclear Emergency Support Team visited the homes of some of the impacted workers to conduct testing and issue recommendations related to the individuals involved and laboratory management.”
The NNSA fails to address why a 9+ month delay between the incident and informing the public of the contamination problem took place. Other key facts are left out of its comments, like if these employees travelled internationally and there were detectible levels of contamination at their homes upon return sometime later, did they track the contamination on commercial flights or elsewhere in the intervening period?
The letter from the DOE Office of Enterprise states that, “Although investigating the loss of contamination control and offsite discovery of contaminated property will be the general purpose of this investigation, additional issues relating to the scope, nature, and extent of compliance with DOE’s nuclear safety requirements… may be pursued as issues arise during the course of the investigation.” It goes on to say that, “The investigation will include an onsite visit and interviews with contractor personnel.”
It is disappointing to hear that radioactive contamination has again made its way from the Lab into the community. Exposure to radiation is harmful, even in low doses. Without providing more details about the extent of the problem, it is difficult to accept the Lab’s attempt at diminishing the potential impacts by calling it, “well below levels of any clinical concern.” For example, The American Cancer Society acknowledges that, “children are more sensitive to radiation than adults because their bodies are still growing.” Did any of the homes that were found to have detectable levels of contamination have young children present?
Tri-Valley CAREs will closely follow the Office of Enterprise Assessment investigation and subsequent reporting as it emerges. Stay tuned.
Click here for the DOE Office of Enterprise Assessment 1-24-24 letter
Click here for more from the Livermore Independent, (Quoting Tri-Valley CAREs)…