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DOE Presses Y-12 Operator to Defend Management Role

The Obama administration on Friday instructed a private contractor to formally make the case for being allowed to continue operating the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee following last month's infiltration by peace activists, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported (see GSN, Aug. 13).

The move against B&W Y-12 followed several other major steps by the Energy Department and its semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration in apparent response to the July 28 unauthorized entry at the plant by the members of the antiwar group Transform Now Plowshares. The intruders passed into Y-12'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 apprehension.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu "has made clear that the security of our nation's nuclear material is the department's most important responsibility, and he has no tolerance for federal or contractor personnel who cannot or will not do their jobs," Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera stated on Monday. "The severity of the failure of leadership at Y-12 demands swift, strong and decisive action by the department."

The department has tapped a number of top personnel to "restore and enhance" protective measures at the facility, according to the spokesman.

"But we will leave no stone unturned to find out what went wrong and will take any step necessary to ensure security at this site and across our enterprise," LaVera said (Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel , Aug. 13).

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