Saturday, September 1, 2012

Department of Energy Audit Finds 'Troubling Ineptitude' At Site Billed "Fort Knox of Uranium"

A report from the DOE's inspector general criticized multiple levels of security breaches at a Tennessee facility that stores weapons-grade uranium after three activists broke into the grounds and vandalized a building earlier this year.
Three anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, were not initially spotted or detained as they cut through three perimeter fences on July 28.

They painted slogans and threw what they said was human blood on the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key component of nuclear bombs, is stored.

[DOE Inspector General] Friedman's report said the government had budgeted about $150 million in taxpayer funds for security at the plant for fiscal 2012, yet the officer responding to the alarm did not notice the trespassers until they walked up to his car and "surrendered."

The officer did not draw his weapon nor secure the area, instead letting the trespassers "roam about and retrieve various items from backpacks," the report said.

Another officer hearing alarms did not look outside the building as he was supposed to, and also missed an image of the trespassers on a camera. A third officer turned off the alarm.

Others heard the activists hammering on the building's outside wall, but assumed the sound was from maintenance workers.
The Oak Ridge facility is managed by Babcock & Wilcox [NYSE- BWC] while security is managed by UK-based G4S Security.

Earlier this summer, G4S was embroiled in a controversy over a staffing shortfall and allegations of rushing unqualified personnel onsite ahead of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The Olympics debacle reportedly cost the company £50 million and prompted the UK's Ministry of Defense to deploy more troops to London.

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