Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 6 News List

US Los Alamos lab loses more data on nuclear weapons

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Two computer-data storage devices containing classified research information are missing from the nuclear weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico, officials there said Friday.

"It's a very serious situation," said Kevin Roark, a Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman.

Roark would not specify the type of storage devices missing; they could be floppy disks, hard disks, memory cards or some other kind of removable storage mechanism. He would not say whether the devices were storing nuclear weapons information.

The laboratory discovered the loss Wednesday during an inventory. This is the third instance in which classified data have gone missing from Los Alamos in the last year, but the announcement this time was more dire in tone.

In a statement, Peter Nanos, the laboratory's director, said the current situation "must be dealt with swiftly and decisively."

In the meantime, laboratory employees who had access to the missing devices will be allowed to continue duties in their work areas, though only under escort.

In the most recent such incident in May, laboratory officials said that the missing devices did not contain nuclear weapons information.

"It was items slated for destruction," Roark said Friday. The items were likely destroyed and records were incorrect, he said.

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