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The Latest: Lawmakers emphasize jobs for nuke laboratory

June 8, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation say their first concern for the management and operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory is assuring the stability of the workforce and the safety of employees and the public while the lab meets its national security mission.

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan weighed in Friday as the federal government announced a $2.5 billion-a-year management contract for the lab.

The winning team is made up of the University of California, Texas A&M and Ohio-based research firm Battelle.

The three Democrats say they’re hopeful about the prospect of the lab contracting with more local small businesses.

Lab Director Terry Wallace said Friday that despite the change in management, the lab’s mission will remain the same and it will work with the new team to ensure a smooth transition.

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12:20 p.m.

A contract worth an estimated $2.5 billion a year to manage one of the nation’s premiere nuclear weapons laboratories is a boon for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s alma mater.

Texas A&M, along with the University of California and the Ohio-based research firm Battelle, make up the consortium that was awarded the management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory on Friday.

The Texas A&M regents who authorized pursuit of the deal include some of Perry’s biggest political donors and his personal attorney.

Asked whether Perry spoke with Texas A&M officials or regents during the bidding process, A&M System spokesman Laylan Copelin referred to a brief statement that didn’t address Perry’s possible involvement.

Watchdog groups that have been critical of safety lapses at the New Mexico lab also were concerned about the University of California’s continued role in management and political influence in that state.

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10:07 a.m.

The U.S. government has awarded a team of two universities and a research firm that does work around the world a $2.5 billion-a-year contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said Friday the winning bidder is Triad National Security LLC, made up of Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University and the University of California.

The University of California has played a role in management since the lab’s inception. The once-secret northern New Mexico lab was the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Following serious concerns about management more than a decade ago, the university formed a consortium with Bechtel and other private companies to become Los Alamos National Security LLC.

Problems persisted and federal officials announced in 2015 the contract wouldn’t be renewed, prompting the bidding process.

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