March 31, 2003
The Honorable Linton Brooks
of the National Nuclear Security
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585-0701
Dear Ambassador Brooks:
The staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities
Safety Board (Board) recently reviewed the status of fire safety improvement
projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Based on discussions between the Board’s staff and representatives
of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Board understands that
funding to complete the projects is available.
The Board requests to be notified if the scheduled completion dates are
delayed. The projects and current
schedules are as follows:
- The Partial Site-wide Fire Alarm Replacement Project is scheduled
to be baselined in July 2003 and expected to be completed in fiscal year
(FY) 2005. This project will
significantly upgrade the site-wide fire alarm system, which proved to be
unreliable during the Cerro Grande fire and for which procurement of
replacements parts is becoming increasingly difficult.
- A related Recommendation 2000-2, Configuration Management, Vital
Safety Systems, Phase II assessment for the upgraded site-wide tire
alarm system and reporting infrastructure is to begin this month. This assessment may lead to the
conclusion that additional upgrades to the site-wide fire alarm system are
- The Waste Management Risk Mitigation Project at the Radioactive
Liquid Waste Treatment Facility is scheduled for completion of
construction in September 2004 and operation during FY 2005. In addition to addressing damages from
the Cerro Grande fire, the project will reduce vulnerability to any
unintentional release of radioactive waste during an emergency.
- The project to procure modular units for expedited preparation of
waste to be transferred to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is scheduled
for completion in December 2003.
These modular units should accelerate the transport of higher-risk
wastes off site.
- A mobile command center is to be delivered in December 2003. As discussed in the Board’s letter of
November 5, 2001, procurement of this mobile command center will help
ensure adequate functionality of the LANL emergency management system
during a severe seismic event.
If your staff has any questions on the
above, Mr. J. Kent Fortenberry, the Board’s Technical Director, at 202-694-7100
will be pleased to respond.
John T. Conway
The Honorable Jessie Hill Roberson
Mr. Mark B. Whitaker, Jr.