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Probe of Los Alamos Lab Losses Widens

November 23, 2002|From Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. — An investigation into allegations of financial wrongdoing and cover-ups at Los Alamos National Laboratory has expanded to include additional purchases made by lab employees, officials said.

"The university will not tolerate theft or mismanagement at Los Alamos or in any other part of the university," University of California President Richard Atkinson said in a statement issued by the laboratory.

The University of California operates the nuclear weapons laboratory for the Department of Energy.

Atkinson said the widening investigation into business practices at the lab includes "the inappropriate use of purchase cards, allegations of criminal activities involving the laboratory purchasing system, and improprieties involving property management."

Recent published reports based on internal documents provided anonymously -- purportedly by lab employees -- have cited millions of dollars in missing inventory.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that, based on the internal documents, nearly $3 million worth of items disappeared or were reported missing from the lab from 1999 to 2001.

The statement issued by the lab said the figure was too high because 1998 and 1999 were combined. Lab spokeswoman Linn Tytler also said items listed as lost are sometimes recovered in the same year they're reported missing.

Whistle-blowers allege that laboratory leaders have tried to cover up the problems and interfere with investigations.

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