Carmen MacDougall, 202-586-4940
Jayne Brady, 202-586-5806

Statement by Secretary Federico F. Peña

I want to express my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Bryan Schneck, who died in a construction accident at Brookhaven National Laboratory this morning.

In response to this tragic accident, I am ordering a site-wide safety standown at the laboratory, effective immediately. Construction and facility operations will stop, and each lab department will review safety procedures with employees and implement additional safety measures. Activities will continue until we are satisfied that everyone -- from scientists to technicians to construction workers -- fully understands the importance of following safety procedures, assessing risks and planning work to avoid accidents like the recent ones.

I am directing Dr. Martha Krebs, director of the Office of Energy Research, to oversee the safety standown. She will be at the lab on Monday.

I am directing Dr. Tara O Toole, Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health to conduct a Type A investigation. This is the most comprehensive investigation conducted by the Department and will result in specific recommendations to prevent future accidents. Dr. O'Toole has appointed an Accident Investigation Board whose members will be onsite this weekend.

Last month, I announced the termination of the existing management contract at Brookhaven National Laboratory. I sent a message to the leadership of the laboratory that there will not be a trade-off between scientific research and environment, safety and health. Today, I am sending the same message to all employees. We share esponsibility for safety. We must change the way we do our work.

-- DOE --