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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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NNSA Presses Ahead With Staffing Changes After Y-12 Break-In

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has continued shifting employees, attributing fault and conducting various probes and assessments after peace activists entered the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee without authorization in late July, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Sunday.

The three members of the antiwar group Transform Now Plowshares on July 28 passed into the Oak Ridge nuclear arms facility's "Protected Area" -- the site's most heavily guarded section and home to atomic arms activities and bomb-grade uranium storage -- and reportedly dumped blood, put up placards and painted wording on the sides of structures prior to their detention.

Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, NNSA principal assistant deputy administrator, is examining agency leadership hierarchies for managing and executing protective operations for U.S. nuclear weapons sites, NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino indicated on Friday. He did not specify if the study's completion would prompt reversals of staffing changes, but resulting findings would apparently have bearing on the matter, according to the News Sentinel.

While Finan continues her work, NNSA Production Office Deputy Manager Dan Hoag would assume an Energy Department supervision post at the nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, D'Agostino said. Hoag has acted as a key overseer of Y-12 programs in recent years, the newspaper reported.

Separately, NNSA Secure Transportation Office head Jeffrey Harrell would temporarily assume the responsibilities of Doug Freeman, who has served as the semiautonomous Energy Department agency's defense nuclear security chief. Freeman has taken on separate duties.

No concrete schedule exists for wrapping up the staffing changes. Multiple congressional panels are due this week to hear testimony on the Y-12 infiltration from Energy Department and NNSA representatives.

Meanwhile, a federal judge on Friday pushed back by four months the trial for the alleged Y-12 plant trespassers, the News Sentinel reported. Trial is now slated to begin on Feb. 26 of next year.

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