Over the past 30 hours, culminating in a story by Reuters this evening, we’re learning the details concerning how, this past weekend, three anti-nuclear proliferation protestors--including an 82-year-old nun--breached three or more different layers of perimeter security fences, triggered multiple electronic sensors, and then walked for more than two hours across the, supposedly, highly-secured grounds of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, near Knoxville, Tennessee, “to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored.”
(Oak Ridge--more specifically, the Y-12 location within the Oak Ridge Reservation, see "UPDATE" info, in the first blockquote below--is the U.S. ”government's only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium.”)
The activists then hung a banner and/or painted slogans on the building, “and threw what they said was human blood on the wall of the facility” (depending upon which report you read of the incident in the MSM). At that point, long after the facility’s security had been compromised, “the protesters were found…singing on Saturday and offering to break bread with the security guards at the Oak Ridge complex, officials said. They were arrested.”
On Wednesday, in a delayed response to the incident, our government announced the temporary lockdown and/or shutdown (again, depending upon which news report one reads) of the entire facility, “at least until next week.”
UPDATE: [big h/t to Kossack Positronicus] Please see THIS LINK, to the comment(s) down below relating to the differences between the Oak Ridge National Laboratory ("ORNL") and "Y-12," the location of the incident, described in this post. Both are on the Oak Ridge National Reservation; but they're roughly 10-12 miles apart; both are ultimately owned by our government via the Department of Energy (DoE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (which is part of the DoE); but, actual day-to-day management is primarily outsourced to different entities. While the Manhattan Project work was done at ORNL, after WWII, ORNL became mostly a non-weapons related location/program, as well as a center for high-speed/advanced computing and energy-related programs, among many other scientific programs. Y-12, on the other hand, is all nuclear weaponry/and weapons stockpile management these days (and has been since shortly after WWII).
The incident that is reported upon in this diary occurred at Y-12, a week ago.
Again, the link to more information about the differences between the two locations is RIGHT HERE.
Exacerbating the severity of the entire incident, we are also now learning that security for the facility is outsourced by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, DOE/NNSA, to none other than G4S, the same firm that made international headlines just a few weeks ago for profoundly screwing the proverbial pooch at the London Olympics.
The Reuters report, excerpted below, quotes former congressional investigator and Energy Department security consultant Peter Stockton, who stated, "It is unbelievable this could happen…The significance is outrageous. If they were terrorists, they could have blown open the door and got inside."
Stockton said the security breach was the "worst we've ever seen." He said it was more serious than the case of Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwan-born scientist who was suspected of espionage at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. He pleaded guilty in 2000 to a less severe charge when the case against him collapsed.Here’s an excerpt from the Reuters article…
U.S. nuclear bomb facility shut after security breachHere are links to a couple of other stories on the incident…
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON | Thu Aug 2, 2012 6:50pm EDT
(Reuters) - The U.S. government's only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached security fences, government officials said on Thursday...
…Ellen Barfield, a spokeswoman for the activists who called themselves "Transform Now Plowshares," said three were arrested and charged with vandalism and criminal trespass.
She said the three, identified as Megan Rice, 82, Michael Walli, 63 and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, were being held in custody and appeared for a hearing before a U.S. magistrate judge in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Thursday…
…Ralph Hutchinson, coordinator for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said the group's intention was not to demonstrate the lack of security at the plant, but to take a stance against the making of nuclear weapons.
"It wasn't so they could show how easy it was to bust into this bomb plant, it was because the production of nuclear weapons violates everything that is moral and good," Hutchinson said. "It is a war crime…"
“Y-12 Nuclear Facility Goes on Lockdown After Security Breach,” Joe Newman, Communications Director, Project on Government Oversight (“POGO”)
Here’s A LINK to a related (quite pertinent, IMHO) post from Kossack ben Avram MacJean, published here this past Sunday.