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The short answer is increased “for profit” privatization of governmental functions, and lack of government accountability-oversight. Something so difficult, so important, cannot be “for profit”. (In fact, if we continue with nuclear power, in the future, people will have to volunteer to monitor the waste (properly)! With “for profit” motive, profit and deadlines seem to be coming before safety and common sense. Recall that new nuclear power plants, and other nuclear facilities, are getting governmental zero interest loans and/or (direct or indirect) subsidies – guarantees. One need only read about the new Vogtle reactors; the US MOX facility; and UK new-build.

According to Hill and Mellow (2006) the Department of Energy (DOE), responsible for the US nuclear weapons complex is the most privatized federal department. “Within DOE, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the quasi-autonomous agency established to oversee the nuclear weapons program and related activities, is even more privatized… it is not at all clear that the sliver of federal involvement remaining in the nation’s nuclear weapons program is enough to actually manage the big contractors in any meaningful sense, or whether its actual function is simply to serve and facilitate their work. It is an important distinction… The DOE nuclear contractors are now playing a major role in promoting nuclear energy,…” Sandia National Lab [and hence its contractors] “played a major role in developing President Bush’s … Global Nuclear Energy Project (GNEP), which envisions the creation of very large new global markets, … of trillions of dollars, in nuclear reactors, spent fuel reprocessing, waste disposal, uranium enrichment, and allied industries across the nuclear spectrum.“. http://www.lasg.org/NNSAPrivatization.pdf

Who is supposed to supervise the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)? “The Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in the United States Department of Energy, is the Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s responsibilities include designing, producing, and maintaining safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons for the U.S. military, providing safe, militarily effective naval nuclear propulsion plants, and promoting international nuclear safety and nonproliferation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_Secretary_of_Energy_for_Nuclear_Security

The Idiotic-Unpatriotic US Official who accepted the German proposal for dumping its high level nuclear waste on the USA, seems to have been the US Dept. of Energy’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, Bush-Obama appointee, Tom D’Agostino, who would go on to resign, shortly after a nun broke into the Y-12 Nuclear Facility. The elderly nun is in jail now. The real villains run free.
Hildegaard von Bingen
In a February 2012 letter, the State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany requested DOE’s Under Secretary for Nuclear Security to DOE consider accepting the fuel. The Office of Environmental Management responded on behalf of the Under Secretary that DOE would consider the request. Collaboration on the request was initiated in May 2012.Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 107 / Wednesday, June 4, 2014 / Notices pp. 32256, 32257
(Deadline Monday 21 July re protesting shipping of German Nuclear Waste to the Savannah River Site, USA: Mr. Andrew Grainger, drew.grainger@srs.gov If you read this after Monday, please write anyway. It could help.)

The following Hill and Mellow (2006) research piece explains the origins of the short-comings and failures of nuclear security, of the nuclear clean-up industry in the US, and of the efforts to saddle everyone with more nuclear reactors. It can probably be extrapolated to Japan, and, at least in part, to the UK. (In Russia and in France the nuclear industry is totally (Russia) or almost totally (France) state-owned). Although a few contractors have changed or switched places, since 2006, the general dynamics seem the same.
Privatization and Crony Capitalism in the Nuclear Weapons Complex  Damon Hill and Greg Mello, 2006  p. 1
Privatization and Crony Capitalism in the Nuclear Weapons Complex  Damon Hill and Greg Mello, 2006 , p. 2
Privatization and Crony Capitalism in the Nuclear Weapons Complex  Damon Hill and Greg Mello, 2006 , p. 3
Ugly yellow and red high-light added. We are torn, as we hate to use pretty colors for ugly topics. Original full document in pdf form here: http://www.lasg.org/NNSAPrivatization.pdf More interesting things may be found at: http://www.lasg.org You may also wish to donate to their work.

Of related interest, the head prior to Tom D’Agostino, who also resigned apparently due to “security lapses”:

National Nuclear Security Administration

Brooks was sworn in as Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security/Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on May 16, 2003.[2]

Brooks was the prime force in privatizing the major DOE laboratories. While the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore labs were formerly run by contractors on a non-profit basis, Brooks decided to change the contracts to a for-profit basis. He defended the move by advocating a theory that the inclusion of industrial partners would bring greater efficiency, justifying the additional cost over time. “That was the theory, and that was my belief,” he said.[4] A few years later, former Los Alamos director Sig Hecker testified before Congress about the change, and stated: “When we went the direction of contractorization we made a grievous error pushing the laboratories in a direction that simply isn’t right for this country and we’ve suffered from that. The whole environment at these laboratories has changed.” [5]

With the new contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory, the agency decided to raise the contractor fee from $8 million to $79 million. The additional funds were to be extracted from the existing budget of the laboratory.[6] When asked by LANL employees how the additional costs were to be paid, Brooks replied in December 2005 that the new contractor would “realize operational efficiencies.” On November 20, 2007, the new LANL manager announced layoffs.[7]

Brooks resigned on January 4, 2007, because of security lapses, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.[8]

Brooks was reprimanded for not reporting to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman regarding the theft of computer files at an NNSA facility in Albuquerque, NM, which contained Social Security numbers and other data for 1,500 workers.

Then, in October, classified weapons-related documents on USB thumb drives from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico were found during a drug raid in the home of a woman who had worked at the lab.

Biography

Linton Brooks
Linton Forrestall Brooks (born August 15, 1938)[1] is a former US Ambassador and former Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Brooks earned a BS in physics from Duke University, an MA in government and politics from the University of Maryland and is a distinguished graduate of the US Naval War College.[2]

Prior to joining the George W. Bush Administration, Brooks was a vice president at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) and an advisor to Sandia National Laboratories. During the George H.W. Bush Administration, Brooks was Assistant Director for Strategic and Nuclear Affairs at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and was Head of the U.S. Delegation on Nuclear and Space Talks and Chief Strategic Arms Reductions (START) Negotiator in the State Department. In this latter capacity, he was responsible for final preparation of the START I Treaty, signed by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev in Moscow on July 31, 1991. In December 1992, he performed a similar function during the final preparation of the January 3, 1993, START II Treaty.[2]

On April 9, 2013, Brooks was awarded the Thérèse Delpech Memorial Award at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. [3]

References

[1] http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-107shrg75903/html/CHRG-107shrg75903.htm
[2] Administrator, Ambassador Linton F. Brooks NNSA Website, n.d., retrieved 1 April 2007
[3] http://carnegieendowment.org/2013/04/09/th%c3%a9r%c3%a8se-delpech-memorial-award/fzh8
[4] Knoxnews.com, October 9, 2012, interviewed by Frank Munger. http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2011/10/linton-brooks-los-alamos-and-u.html
[5] Senate Committee on Appropriations, Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing, 30 April 2008.
[6] Santa Fe New Mexican, 20 May 2005: “Feds Sweeten Deal for LANL Manager”, by D. Heil.
[7] Associated Press, 11/7/2007, “Los Alamos Nuclear Lab plans Layoffs,” by F. Fonseca
[8] “Nation’s nuclear lab chief loses job”, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 January 2007, Retrieved 1 April 2007.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linton_Brooks