UPDATE: Y-12 Plant Suspends Nuclear Arms Activities Over Feared Vulnerabilities
The Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee has suspended all atomic activities, locked away stores of refined uranium and mandated personnel retraining in response to mounting fears over defensive shortcomings after three antiwar advocates infiltrated the Tennessee nuclear arms site on Saturday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Thursday
The National Nuclear Security Administration voiced complete backing for the “security stand-down” instituted by B&W Y-12, which operates the site. The action is “necessary to ensure continued confidence in safe and secure operations at Y-12,” the semiautonomous Energy Department agency said in a statement.
The halt’s duration was still undecided, according to government personnel. It could remain in effect for around seven days, the News Sentinel reported.
(Reuters) – The U.S. government’s only facility for handling, processing and storing weapons-grade uranium was temporarily shut this week after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached security fences, government officials said on Thursday.
WSI Oak Ridge, the contractor responsible for protecting the facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is owned by the international security firm G4S, which was at the center of a dispute over security at the London Olympic Games.
Officials said the facility was shut down on Wednesday at least until next week after three activists cut through perimeter fences to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored.
NUCLEAR MATERIALS ‘NOT COMPROMISED’
Officials said that the storage building itself, which was built after the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, was designed with modern security features and that its contents were not compromised.
WSI Oak Ridge, the private firm employed by the U.S. Department of Energy to provide security at Y-12, is a subsidiary of the giant international security firm G4S.
INCIDENT REVEALED NUCLEAR RISKS
Although the security breach occurred overnight last Friday, officials confirmed that the shutdown – which applies to “all nuclear operations” at the Y-12 site – did not begin until Wednesday. Officials said it was expected to continue into next week.
featured image: The East Tennessee Technology Park, a site within the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is seen in an undated handout photo from the U.S. Department of Energy. REUTERS/U.S. Department of Energy/Handout