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3 Officials at Livermore Lab Suspended

June 05, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Three mid-level security managers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have been suspended after a lost key card went unreported to top managers for six weeks.

Lab officials put the men, who were not identified, on a two-week leave Monday.

That same day, a team of investigators sent by the U.S. Energy Department's national nuclear security administrator, Linton Brooks, arrived to look into recent security lapses at the Bay Area lab.

A security officer who lost the card reported it missing to his supervisor in April, but top managers did not find out about it until late last week, said lab spokeswoman Susan Houghton.

"That's part of the whole investigation," she said. "What happened with the communication following that incident report?"

Another slip-up occurred that same month when a set of keys to a perimeter fence and a few offices disappeared but was not reported for three weeks.

The federal team will review the recent lapses, examine overall security procedures and decide if the National Nuclear Security Administration should take over lab security, said spokesman Bryan Wilkes.

Lab officials have blocked the card from opening any doors and have said that there is no evidence the card has been used.

Brooks also has asked the team to look into reports by a member of the lab security force that the special response team is not prepared to defend against a terrorist attack.

The University of California, which has managed Lawrence Livermore since 1952, has been criticized over security lapses and financial mismanagement at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the other nuclear weapons facility it manages.

In response, the U.S. Energy Department decided to put the Los Alamos contract out for bid when it expires in 2005, after 60 years of uncontested management by the University of California.

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