Friday, August 3, 2012

Oak Ridge Breach: Just How Safe Are We?

Arrested protesters (from left) Michael R. Walli, Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed
We're all wondering aloud today just how safe we are--in a country that's already shivering under the bed--after three elderly Transform Now Plowshare activists broke into the Y12 nuclear fuel storage facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., scaring hell out of everybody and throwing mud once again on security specialist G4S.

Three old hippies--one of them an 82-year-old nun, the others 63 and 57--breached the security and a day later a guy telling a security guard he was an Oak Ridge cop, new on the beat and needing to familiarize himself with Y12's layout, was let in.

Somebody I've known for many years works with G4S (formerly Wackehnht) and says the company (which most recently got in trouble over the London Olympics security) is in negotiations to renew its contract with Y12. This facility houses probably the largest stockpile of weapons-grade uranium in the world, something terrorists would dearly love to have.

A spokesman for the Peace Alliance in Oak Ridge is quoted as saying (by NBC News) that the breach was not about destroying the plant or even showing the holes in guarding it: "It wasn't so they could show how easy it was to bust into this bomb plant, it was because the production of nuclear weapons violates everything that is moral and good. It is a war crime."

A spokesman for the National Neuclear Security Administration deadpanned to Oak Ridge Today, "We're taking this very, very seriously." You betcha. The three protesters splattered some blood on the facility and hung a couple of banners. They didn't hurt anybody or even try to.

Babcock & Wilcox in Lynchburg has a huge contract at Y12, which is close to coming up for renewal. B&W obviously has nothing to do with security, but you can bet there are some squirrely people hanging around. There are apparently plans to build a $6.5 billion nuclear processing facility near Y12 (whose building cost more than $500 million).

What we're seeing here is the lax security of a private company handling a red hot national security issue. A detatchment of Marines would likely be a far, far better choice to guard the facility. Mercenaries think first of the bottom line. Marines think first of the job at hand.

(Photo: Oak Ridge Today)


  1. WOW, Old hippies never die - we just go on with our business an usual. This is scarey that it was so easy. So a terrioist type person need to find an older sweet looking white person to do the dirty work. A dark skinned,swarthy, beady eyed middle eastern looking (actually an american indian) would never have gotten past the gate. Even though he was a newly hired employee.

  2. I once worked for Wackenhut/G4S. That is not a company that should be securing anything more dangerous than a grocery store. The training is laughable. Like most low-rent security companies their only goal is to underbid other companies for contracts. They then pass that "savings" on to employees, leaving them less than anxious to risk themselves for the cause.