Energy Department watchdog flags inventory, other issues at explosives storage facility

Issues included mice and bug infestations, lack of detailed protocols, and potential for storage space problems

Updated: September 16, 2020 - 3:29pm

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A new report from the Department of Energy inspector general cites several problems at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which stores and tracks explosives. Issues included, the absence of detailed protocols for performing physical inventories of explosives and a failure to have people other than explosives custodians carry out the mandated yearly inventory.

The inspector general also found some storage and facility issues including a mice infestation.

"For example, 14 storage facilities at Site 300 had peeling interior paint, and another had a severe mice infestation that prevented us from entering the magazine until it was decontaminated," the IG's Sept. 9 Inspection Report says.

"As previously mentioned, we also identified an insect infestation inside an explosives container stored within a magazine at Site 300."

The damaged container with the insects was replaced, according to the IG.

The watchdog reported a lack of uniformity in tracking inventory, noting the use of "seven separate inventory systems for programs at Site 300 and a separate system" at the High Explosive Application Facility.

Federal regulations require an individual aside from an explosives custodian to perform the inventories, or if that is not a possibility, that the custodian carry out the inventory "with verification by a second party."

However, the IG reported, "All of the custodians stated that they, and their immediate staff, conducted the annual inventories." The IG also said that "the explosives custodians each conducted their own inventories without clear verification by another individual." 

Ultimately, the report indicates that the facility is "adequately" performing the job of tracking and storing explosives, but the watchdog highlighted the potential for a future problem regarding storage space.

"During our inspection at HEAF and Site 300, four of the explosives management officials we spoke to stated that the storage magazines were becoming crowded," the IG reported. "With the exception of one magazine, none were in danger of exceeding the safety weight limits, but we observed that some magazines were physically crowded. For example, we observed two magazines at Site 300 that were crowded to the point that no additional explosives could be stored there."

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