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Project on Government Oversight

Where was the Security at Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex? Ease of Recent Breach is Frightening

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July 30, 2012

Statement of Peter Stockton, Nuclear Security Expert,
Project On Government Oversight

The Project On Government Oversight’s ongoing concerns about security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oakridge, Tenn. were confirmed by the Associated Press this weekend. The Department of Energy has repeatedly claimed that security at the site, which houses 300 to 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium, is robust enough to defend against more than a dozen heavily-armed terrorists with inside knowledge of security procedures.

In fact, it didn’t stop an 82-year-old nun. Were Wackenhut guards caught napping again? The fences are supposed to be armed with sensors and cameras. I just could never imagine this happening. It looks like the Boy Scouts could have done a better job.

The first thing that needs to happen is the Department of Energy’s independent Office of Health, Safety, and Security needs to send a team to find out what went so terribly wrong. This episode should be a death knell for efforts in Congress to turn oversight of security and safety at nuclear facilities over to contractors for self-policing.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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