Concerns over worker safety were repeatedly raised in performance evaluations for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory's main contractor, Department of Energy reports from the last two years show.
Last month, an accident involving the release of deadly carbon dioxide from a fire-extinguishing system killed an electrician and sent 14 other workers to the hospital.Energy Department officials are still investigating the accident and have said it is too early to draw conclusions about whether it fits into a broader pattern of safety lapses.
The most recent evaluation, completed before last week's fatal accident, gave Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Co. a "good" rating, with a performance score of 89.2.
That score, which determines how much money the company is awarded and how much profit it makes, was given for October 1997 to March of this year.
Lockheed Martin Idaho was awarded $7,515,208 during that period, or 53 percent of the money it could have received if it had received a perfect score.
Lockheed Martin officials refused to comment on any specific issues raised in the new evaluation, including safety concerns, but spokesman Chris Hertz said the company would like to boost future scores into the 90s range.
The performance report praised the contractor for meeting milestones to clean up nuclear waste at the site ahead of schedule. It also rated its efforts to spin new businesses and technologies out of research labs as excellent.
But the Energy Department report also pointed out deficiencies in health and safety oversight and in soliciting new missions and funding.
Previous performance evaluations over the last two years also have raised red flags about inattention to worker safety and failure to enforce proper work procedures, saying that the company had been slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem.