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Nuclear lab's safety record facing criticism

South Carolina workers employed in hazardous jobs may be interested to learn that the safety record at the lab that created the atomic bomb has been facing criticism. According to the Center for Public Integrity, numerous internal reports show that federal regulators have had concerns regarding safety lapses over the last couple of years. Incidents include spilled plutonium and employees positioning plutonium rods in an unsafe way.

Work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory had been briefly suspended in 2013 following numerous safety problems. However, the facility's operations have undergone a number of external reviews. Even so, Los Alamos has struggled to modernize and has been plagued with management issues, oversight issues and safety concerns involving the handling of plutonium and radioactive waste.

For example, an incident occurred when several tablespoons of a liquid containing plutonium was spilled. The spill was wiped up with cheesecloth before being thrown away in waste bins containing other nuclear materials. However, this is prohibited under federal rules as plutonium can cause fires and chemical reactions if it comes into contact with cheesecloth. Another incident included lining up plutonium rods for a photograph, which could have resulted in a nuclear chain reaction.

Employees who are required to work around hazardous chemicals could suffer a serious occupational disease or injury if there is a lapse in safety. If the illness or injury requires medical treatment and a resulting inability to work, they could be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. A lawyer can often be of assistance in preparing and filing the claim.

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