The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) is investigating an incident that suggests poor off-site protocol for the Livermore Lab guard force—as well as a possible misuse of Lab security resources and personnel.
DOE’s investigation centers on events that occurred last Saturday, when two heavily armed guards from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory strolled around the baggage area of the San Jose International Airport waiting for another security staffer to arrive from a flight. They were armed with assault rifles strapped to their chests and pistols in their holsters, with difficult-to-see identification on the battle dress uniforms.
DOE sources tell POGO that Livermore guards have no authority beyond the fence line of the Lab, except when they are in hot pursuit of someone who has stolen highly enriched uranium or plutonium.
Violating standard law enforcement procedures, the Livermore guards did not inform the San Jose police of their whereabouts, a Lab spokesman told the Mercury News.
Considering the past security debacles at the Lab, POGO thinks that security should be taken much more seriously than this incident suggests. We doubt this incident means that security is so improved at Livermore Lab that some of its guard force can be out running errands instead of guarding the Lab’s stock of nuclear materials. In 2008, POGO released a report calling for the removal of special nuclear materials from Livermore Lab due to security concerns. Soon after that report's release, POGO and Time Magazine reported that Livermore Lab failed security performance tests in which mock terrorists were able to steal highly enriched uranium and assemble an improvised nuclear device on-site.
-- Peter Stockton