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Information Update: September 16, 2008: NIST Takes Additional Steps to Strengthen Safety at Its Boulder Laboratories
For Immediate Release: September 16, 2008
Boulder, Colo. -- Acting upon several internal and external investigations and reports, including a recent safety audit conducted with the assistance of the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a number of actions it has taken to improve safety at its Boulder, Colo., campus.
The actions respond to safety issues identified following a June 9 plutonium spill at the NIST-Boulder Laboratories.
"These latest actions represent important steps for increasing all aspects of safety of NIST-Boulder laboratories," said Richard Kayser, Interim Director of the NIST-Boulder Laboratories. "Much still needs to be done, but we are grateful for the hard work of NIST staff and associates as well as the input we have been receiving from experts at agencies such as the Department of Energy."
Also today, NIST Deputy Director James M. Turner announced that he is leaving NIST to accept another job at the Department of Commerce as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Patrick D. Gallagher, Director of NIST’s Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), has been appointed the new Deputy Director of NIST. Gallagher, a physicist with extensive experience in national policy for scientific user facilities, has worked for 15 years at NIST, serving as Director of NCNR since 2004. Prior to becoming Director of the NCNR, Gallagher served as the NIST representative at the federal National Science and Technology Council, a Cabinet-level policy council chaired by the President.
"With Dr. Gallagher’s strong management and safety background, I am confident NIST will continue to move forward on a variety of key initiatives, especially developing and strengthening a comprehensive safety program for NIST,” said Commerce Deputy Secretary John J. Sullivan.
Examples of recent actions taken by NIST that are mentioned in a letter to the City of Boulder included the following:
A new NIST Blue Ribbon Commission on Management and Safety also has been established by the Secretary of Commerce to examine NIST as a whole and how safety is managed and implemented NIST-wide. The members of the commission are:
A report on the DOE-assisted audit of NIST's Boulder Laboratories and a letter to the City of Boulder describing recent NIST safety improvement actions have been provided to the Commission. These documents are available at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/boulder-incident.html.