Not Fine and Not Dandy
For 12 years, the U.S. Department of Energy has neglected to regularly impose fines on contractors running federal nuclear weapons plants and labs when the contractors fail to protect workers and the public from radiation hazards. A 1988 federal law authorizes fines and other penalties, but the DOE has yet to draft all the administrative rules needed to enforce the law. Lawmakers from both parties are getting fed up with the department’s delays. Rep. Ron Klink (D-Pa.): “How can anyone believe that DOE wants to [assure safety] when it refuses to use its main enforcement tool?” Meanwhile, the DOE is investigating safety concerns at the Pantex nuclear weapons assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas, after a DOE nuclear safety engineer reported that safety lapses are so serious that the department should consider closing the plant.