Morning Briefing - April 08, 2019
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April 08, 2019

DOE, Defense Safety Board Summoned to HASC Panel Tuesday

By ExchangeMonitor

Queuing up fireworks ahead of this year’s annual National Defense Authorization Act, a House Armed Services panel has invited the head of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to a Tuesday hearing with the heads of Department of Energy nuclear weapons and cleanup programs.

The witness list for the hearing of the strategic forces subcommittee encompasses:

  • Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
  • Anne White, assistant secretary of energy for the Office of Environmental Management
  • Bruce Hamilton, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB)

Hamilton’s roughly $30 million-a-year agency is an independent health-and-safety watchdog created by Congress in 1988 to make safety recommendations for the active nuclear-weapon sites now managed by the NNSA and the shuttered Cold War sites the Environmental Management office has been cleaning up since 1989.

With an order handed down in May 2018, DOE has attempted to shrink the DNFSB’s role across the nuclear complex, claiming the board’s legal mandate to make safety recommendation does not extend to certain facilities DOE deems lower-risk, or to the department’s contractor and federal workforce.

The DNFSB, with lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in its corner, has fought DOE on the order. Congress, in spending legislation passed last year, solicited briefings from the department about the controversial Order 140.1.

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee hearing is set to stream online from Washington at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.