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Project on Government Oversight

Experts Recommend Federalizing Guard Forces at DOE Nuclear Weapons Facilities

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January 14, 2013 | By: Peter Stockton

Statement of Peter Stockton, Senior Investigator,
Project On Government Oversight

Shortly after last year’s incredible breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee by the 82-year-old nun and her cohorts, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu asked three experts to review the physical security of the entire nuclear weapons complex. This group was comprised of former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine (who provided an extremely detailed analysis in his review, discussing concerns about false alarm rates, failed compensatory measures, unrepaired equipment, and substandard testing), retired Air Force Maj. Gen. C. Donald Alston, former Commander at Warren Air Force Base and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Meserve.

Each expert was asked to submit a letter with recommendations to change and improve the security system of the overall complex. The letters were sent to Secretary Chu on Dec. 6. The Department of Energy has refused to release these letters but the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has obtained copies (see below).

Of particular interest to POGO is the recommendation made by all three experts that guard forces at the various bomb-grade uranium and plutonium storage sites be federalized, something POGO has suggested time and time again. (Meserve discusses federalization, but felt it might be unwarranted at this time.) One of the major security concerns has been the impact of guard union strikes, which leave these incredibly sensitive facilities vulnerable but would no longer be an issue with a federalized force. POGO recommends that Congress finally move ahead on federalizing the guard forces at all sites where bomb-grade quantities of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium are stored.  

Letter from Norm Augustine

Letter from C. Donald Alston

Letter from Richard Meserve

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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