By MIA STEINLE
A government investigation into the recent break-in at a nuclear weapons facility
in Oak Ridge, Tenn., blamed longstanding security weaknesses and “troubling
displays of ineptitude” by facility personnel.
The probe by a federal inspector general found that security problems, some of which personnel had been aware of for months, “directly contributed” to the July incident, when activists including an 82-year-old nun penetrated three fences and staged an anti-nuclear protest.
The facility’s federal and contractor managers knew of “a substantial backlog of degraded and/or nonoperational security equipment” at the Y-12 National Security Complex prior to the break-in, according to the inspector general. The security camera that faced the site of the break-in hadn’t been working for about six months, he wrote.
The findings were reported in an Aug. 29 memo by Gregory Friedman, the inspector general for the Department of Energy.
After the activists broke through a fence surrounding the complex, a security guard turned off an alarm without seeking its cause, Friedman wrote.
Other security guards interviewed by the inspector general’s office said they assumed the sound of a hammer beating against the facility wall was coming from maintenance workers, who they said sometimes show up “in the hours of darkness and without warning,” Friedman said.
“In short, the actions of these officers were inconsistent with the gravity of the situation and existing protocols,” he said.