Former Los Alamos Scientist, Todd Kauppila, Dies

May 10, 2005
Associated Press
Times Leader, Northeastern Pennsylvania

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - A former Los Alamos nuclear lab scientist, fired last year in a security scandal that shut down the lab for several weeks, has died.

Todd Kauppila, 41, died Sunday of hemorrhagic pancreatitis at the Los Alamos hospital, according to Scott Wilson, associate director of the state medical examiner's office.

His death came two days after Kauppila publicly rejoiced over news that the lab's director was leaving.

"Every table is packed and the beer is flowing," he told The Associated Press on Friday as he celebrated with fellow scientists at a Los Alamos eatery.

Kauppila was fired by director Pete Nanos on Sept. 23 following a security scandal.

Kauppila said he was fired because he did not immediately return from a family vacation during a lab investigation into two classified computer disks that were thought to be missing.

The apparent security breach forced Nanos to shut down the lab for several weeks.

Kauppila claimed he was made a scapegoat over the disks, which investigators concluded never existed. The mistake was blamed on a clerical error.

After he was fired, Kauppila accepted a job as a contractor at Bechtel Nevada Corp., a research company that works with Los Alamos and other national laboratories.

Nanos did not specify why he was leaving. He had been criticized by many for his hard-nosed efforts to stop financial abuses and security lapses.

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