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Government Watchdog Seeks Update on Y-12 Plant Hazards

A U.S. government watchdog is expected at an October meeting to examine what steps are being taken to help prevent accidents in aging manufacturing sites at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Possible hazards associated with the plant's atomic infrastructure have for years been a focus of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which has voiced particular alarm over the nuclear arms site's decades-old "9212" highly enriched uranium processing center. The Obama administration is seeking to speed up preparation of a replacement Uranium Processing Facility and to begin shifting responsibilities to the successor location close to the end of the decade.

The panel hopes to scrutinize the plan's possible implications, as well as Y-12 plant initiatives on reacting to crises. The facility's Beta-2E bomb dismantlement area is another anticipated focus of the meeting, which is set to take place on Oct. 2 in Knoxville.

"According to our board we will not be addressing issues dealing with the security breach," panel spokesman Joseph King said on Tuesday, referring to a recent break-in at the site by peace activists. "That is outside our scope."

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