ANA Opposes New DOE Order

Citing success stories vital to protecting worker and public health and safety by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Safety Board or Board) at Department of Energy (DOE) facilities across the country, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) is opposing DOE’s restrictions on the Safety Board’s access to facilities, personnel, and information.  As part of a continuing effort to undermine the 30-year old oversight Board, in May, DOE released a new Order 140.1 about the Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board that contradicts not only the Safety Board’s statutory requirements, but DOE’s.  DOE O 140.1 Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

Watchdog groups from across the nuclear weapons complex are pushing back at the DOE’s efforts to evade its statutory duty.  The law clearly states, “The Secretary of Energy shall fully cooperate with the Board and provide the Board with ready access to such facilities, personnel, and information as the Board considers necessary to carry out its responsibilities [ ].”  The new Order is another attempt to restrict the Safety Board’s work to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy to inform the Secretary [ ] in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”  42 U.S.C. § 2286c(a).

At the same time, a majority of the four-member Safety Board voted to reform the way it performs its work by establishing an Executive Director of Operations, re-structuring its headquarters staff, and increasing the number of Resident Inspectors at DOE nuclear security sites.  DNFSB Major Reform rev

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico have raised concerns.  They said, “[I]n light of the administration’s posture toward the [Board} and its attempts to undermine the board, Congress, stakeholders, and the public need much more information about such a drastic reorganization proposal.  [ ]  We are seeking a meeting to discuss our concerns with Acting Chairman Hamilton in the near future.”

On Wednesday, Acting Chairman Bruce Hamilton wrote to Senator Heinrich, stating that the “final proposal was uniquely mine.” 08.22.18 Letter to Senator Heinrich

In the midst of controversy, the Safety Board is seeking information from DOE and some Board staff at a public hearing on Tuesday, August 28th from 9 am to 12:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time in Washington, DC.  It will be live streamed.  Various DOE officials will testify.  ANA and other members of the public will be able to comment.  The hearing record will remain open until September 28th.

ANA also is requesting DOE hold public hearings at Los Alamos, Sandia, and WIPP in New Mexico and at other sites subject to Safety Board oversight to explain to workers and the public why the new Order is necessary.  Based on public and Safety Board comments, DOE should revise or revoke the Order.


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