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DOE Atomic Sites Must Verify Adherence to Protection Rules

The Obama administration has ordered all Energy Department installations housing atomic substances to formally verify that they are falling completely into line with departmental standards and instructions on protective measures, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Friday (see GSN, Aug. 16).

Supervisors must also give formal confirmation of their sites' adherence to "internal policies established at the site level," according to an Energy Department insider.

The reported move follows last month's infiltration of the Y-12 National Security Complex by the members of the antiwar group Transform Now Plowshares. The intruders on July 28 passed into the Tennessee installation's "Protected Area" -- the plant's most heavily guarded section and home to atomic arms activities and bomb-grade uranium storage -- and reportedly dumped blood, put up placards and added painted wording to the sides of structures prior to their detention (Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel I, Aug. 17)

Meanwhile, the Y-12 plant's managing contractor has permanently assigned Charles Spencer to serve as its president and general manager, the newspaper reported. Spencer took the helm at B&W Y-12 following the break-in (see GSN, Aug. 13; Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel II, Aug. 16).

"For more than a decade, B&W Y-12 has a maintained a strong record at the Y-12 National Security Complex, both in meeting mission deliverables and in operating safely and securely," he said in prepared remarks, addressing a federal call last week for his organization to formally defend its continued role as the plant's operator.

"Since the [breach] occurred, we have implemented a number of corrective actions, including additional security training for more than 4,500 employees and integration of the protective force scope of work into the management and operations contract," he added. "We will continue to work to ensure the highest level of security is attained at the site and respond to any and all concerns expressed by [the National Nuclear Security Administration]."

Washington this week permitted the facility to resume atomic operations suspended after the intrusion.

"The resumption of safe and secure nuclear operations is great news for Y-12 and a major step in a positive direction," Spencer stated. "Everyone at Y-12 knows their job is important to our nation, and I applaud our employees for their efforts in returning us to operations" (Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel III, Aug. 16).

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