There is about one month left on the temporary indemnity determination the Department of Energy allowed nuclear-weapon sites to add to their management and operations contracts after the COVID-19 pandemic forced mass telework in mid-March.

The determination, which Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette issued on March 26, will lapse on June 30. The decision specified that existing federal liability protections from unusual hazards on nuclear sites included measures contractors take in response to COVID-19.

Such measures could include: testing employees for the respiratory disease; opening up a site to non-DoE researchers who want to use agency facilities to study the virus or work on a vaccine or treatment; or supplying protective equipment to people on-site.

DoE is the civilian agency responsible, through its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), for modernizing U.S. nuclear weapons.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Nevada National Security Site were among the NNSA-owned facilities that added Brouillette’s COVID-19-related indemnity clause to their management and operations contracts, according to data maintained by the NNSA’s Acquisition and Project Management site.

The Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have been testing their own employees for COVID-19.

It was not clear whether those two labs opted into Brouillette’s liability protection. However, both sites’ contracts contain stock language imparting indemnity provided by Public Law 85-804: the basis for the COVID-19 protections Brouillette described in his March 26 determination. Los Alamos this month instituted mandatory testing for employees on-site. The lab randomly selects essential workers for the tests, which Los Alamos administers and processes in-house.