$2.1 billion dollars a year ain't enough for the brains in charge of Los Alamos National Lab, apparently. So the world's most important nuclear research center has turned to the U.S. Postal Service, of all places, to fund its new, 400,000 square foot "Science Complex."No, it's not like the fathers of the atom bomb are now starting some new-fangled effort to zap your mail. Instead, the lab's managers have been on the hunt for "alternative funding (i.e. third-party methods)" to bankroll its construction projects, documents uncovered by Nuclear Watch of New Mexico reveal.Funds for the new Science Center weren't anywhere to be found in the Energy Department's publicly-available budgets. Nuke Watch had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out that the Energy Department was digging into the U.S. Postal Service's pockets for two new buildings (one classified, the other not) and a parking lot. "As a justification," Nuke Watch notes, the department "cited a vaguely worded federal law that authorizes the USPS to furnish property and services to executive branch agencies and vice versa."Nuke Watch director Jay Coghlan calls it an "end run around Congress."About 10% of Los Alamos' total workforce will eventually have their offices in the Science Center. That includes the everyone in the "Strategic Research" directorate, including the folks in the "Nuclear Technology Office." What will they do there? Well, they probably won't be handling big piles of uranium or plutonium. But they will be tackling "basic and applied scientific research" for "Stockpile Stewardship" -- maintenance of the country's nuclear arsenal.Now, Los Alamos complains that half of its 8.9 million square feet of facilities are over 30 years old, and half are in "fair, poor, or failing condition." So the need for new buildings is understandable. But why do if off-the-books? And why the shenanigans with the Post Office?(Big ups: TH)
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