House advances measure to strengthen safety at nuclear sites

Published on November 21, 2017 by Alex Murtha

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A measure to strengthen the capabilities of the Defense Nuclear Safety Board (DNFSB) in the final version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was recently advanced by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Authored by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the amendment requires DNFSB members to report to Congress each year if the White House’s budget request is sufficient to fund safety reviews that ensure operations at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons sites are safe for workers and the surrounding community — including the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, both of which are located in New Mexico.

“Every day, the women and men at New Mexico’s labs are doing incredible, innovative work to keep our nation safe and to grow our state’s economy, and it is vital that we do everything we can to keep them safe on the job and protect the safety of the surrounding communities,” Udall said. “We have seen too many serious safety and security lapses at DOE nuclear sites in recent years, including in New Mexico.”

Heinrich said that Congress has an obligation to protect the health and safety of workers in his state’s DOE facilities and to clean up radioactive waste left behind by the nation’s nuclear programs.

“I will continue to fight in the Senate to assure the DNFSB has the resources it needs to provide the critical oversight and transparency essential to maintain public confidence,” Heinrich said.

The NDAA will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.