Ongoing Security Vulnerability at Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex Revealed
Four and a half months after Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli enter facility, hole in perimeter fence still not repaired
Members of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance today releases photos showing that, four and a half months after the July 28, 2012, incursion by the Transform Now Plowshares peace activists, the person-sized hole they made in the perimeter fence at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, has not yet been repaired.
On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, lawyers for the defense were taken on a tour of the Y12 facility to view firsthand the location of the entrance and subsequent activities of the peace activists who entered the Y12 facility to call attention to the criminality of ongoing nuclear weapons production activities at Y12, activities which contradict the legal obligation of the United States, codified in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to pursue nuclear disarmament.
The lawyers were shown a spot in the perimeter fence, marked with three carabiners from which red ribbons were hung, and a trail leading up the ridge through the woods, also marked with red plastic ribbon.
On Monday, December 17, 2012, two OREPA members traveled to the Y12 site and approached the perimeter fence and, after walking for fifteen minutes, came to the actual point of entry where the chain link fence was open from the ground to a point about four feet high. A white plastic cable tie hung conspicuously from the fence; it was a tie the peace activists had attempted to use to close the whole behind them.
On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, OREPA’s coordinator met with counsel for the defense to compare notes and confirmed that 1) the point of access identified by the government was not, in fact, the entry point of the Plowshares activists; and 2) the entry point was not yet repaired and the breach in the fence remained.
Francis Lloyd, counsel for Sister Megan Rice, immediately drafted a letter to be delivered to the prosecution and the court to alert them to the ongoing vunerability.
“The existence of this breach is significant for two reasons,” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison. “First, of course, we should not have large holes in the fence that establishes the first line of defense for our nuclear weapons facilities. The breach was clearly evident from a distance of twenty yards or more; it says to me that with all the post July 28 security activity, and despite the assurances given to Congress and others, no one had taken the simple step of walking the entire perimeter fence to verify its integrity.”
“But a greater concern is what this says about the capacity of B&W Y12 and the National Nuclear Security Administration to do their job,” Hutchison continued. “Since July 28, the public has heard assurances from the Secretary of Energy on down that the Plowshares action was a wake-up call, that security lapses were intolerable, that attention to detail was paramount, that all steps were being taken to address the lessons learned—and yet the hole in the fence had not been discovered, nor had it been repaired. There is no excuse. None.
“The complete and utter failure of B&W Y12 to complete this simple, fundamental task, and the complete and utter failure of NNSA to make sure its contractor had completed this simple, fundamental task demonstrate a level of managerial incompetence that simply can not be allowed to continue at our nuclear weapons facilities. The problem is not with individuals making poor decisions, the problem is cultural. And to those who say it can be fixed, I ask, ‘What possible incentive could there be, short of an actual terrorist attack, that would provide greater motivation for B&W Y12 and NNSA to demonstrate their competence than the July 28 incursion?’”
On September 12, 2012, OREPA called for the abolition of the NNSA. “Today, we repeat that call,” said Hutchison. “The taxpayers and the nation can not afford to pay for incompetence. We get no value added from the NNSA’s additional layer of oversight; we get value subtracted. There is less accountability, and that leads to less security. You might get away with that in an office building somewhere, but we’re talking about an active nuclear weapons production complex.”
(Note: On December 20, 2012, a federal spokesperson said the hole had been located and repaired. http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2012/12/the-cut-in-the-fence-has-been.html)