LAS VEGAS — A contractor with the nation's nuclear weapons testing program is investigating allegations that some workers at the Nevada test site get drunk before nuclear tests are conducted, a general manager for the company said Thursday.
Peter Zavattaro, general manager for EG&G Inc., said the charges were made by a former employee who was fired for using a government car for unauthorized purposes.
"He's trying to get his job back by going through whatever he's going through," Zavattaro said of the worker, who he would not identify. "He made some allegations which we're looking into."
The allegations have been raised by two current and five former test site employees, Las Vegas labor consultant David Hendricks said Wednesday. Eight thousand employees work at the 1,350-square-mile test site.
Hendricks said charges of drinking and marijuana use at the test site surfaced while he was investigating his client's dismissal. He confirmed that the man was fired for unauthorized use of the vehicle.
The Department of Energy hires contractors to do the testing and "it's up to them to do the day-to-day policing work" at the test site, department spokesman Chris West said.
"I can honestly say I have never seen anyone drunk at the Nevada Test Site," said West, who has been with the testing program for four years and is often at the test site's control point when blasts are detonated.
Hendricks said reports from the seven workers said that selected individuals were sent to a store to purchase liquor, which was "consumed to the point of drunkenness."
Hendricks said workers told of 200 cans of beer being brought to 20 to 25 workers at Command Post 65 the night before a nuclear test.
Zavattaro said the worker making the allegations was a materials handler in a warehouse "and doesn't do technical jobs related to the test operations."