Steroid Testing to be Added for Nuclear Weapons Workers?

Steroid use is permeating all walks of our society. The National Nuclear Security Administration is even considering adding steroids to the drug testing regimen for workers in our nation’s nuclear weapons facilities.

Don

Knoxville, TN

An inspector general audit released last week said the government should consider adding steroids to the drug tests for workers in the Human Reliability Program, a special monitoring program for those with access to high-security weapons-making areas and special nuclear materials.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, in response to questions, said it’s taking a serious look at the IG’s recommendations. The NNSA oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including Y-12 in Oak Ridge, where some security police officers were fired earlier this year after testing positive for steroids on “for-cause” tests.

The audit report said the Department of Energy, of which the NNSA is a part, previously had been reluctant to expand the drug-testing program, saying it was neither necessary nor cost-effective. The IG said that attitude may have delayed the discovery of steroids use in Oak Ridge.

According to the IG report, “The discovery is significant because steroid abuse can lead to serious side effects such as aggressive behavior, mood swings, and depression, which could impair an individual’s judgment and disqualify them from participation in the Reliability Program. Given the potential side effects of medications such as narcotic pain relievers, muscle relaxants and steroids, a more comprehensive listing of medications requiring work restrictions could serve to ensure that Reliability Program employees are performing their duties free from the impairing effects of certain prescription medications and other drugs.”

Damien LaVera, a spokesman at NNSA headquarters in Washington, said the agency, in conjunction with DOE, is reviewing the recommendations of the report.

“This review is intended to determine the feasibility and desirability of incorporating steroids into current employee drug testing practices,” LaVera stated in an e-mail message. “We take our commitment to a safe, accountable work force very seriously, and we want to make sure our review looks at all possible factors before a decision is made.”

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