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During a mock exercise at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), an antiterrorist "red team" breached security and penetrated Building 332, the so-called "Superblock" where some 2,000 pounds of plutonium and weapons-grade uranium are stored. Lab security personnel failed miserably, TIME magazine reported.
Situated in Livermore, California, LLNL is about an hour's drive from San Francisco; approximately seven million people live within a 50 mile radius of the weapons facility. But as the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) disclosed in March,
...the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has given Livermore Lab a waiver so that it does not have to meet the current security requirements devised by the intelligence community. The encroaching residential community surrounding the Lab has made it impossible to properly protect the Lab's weapons quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. ("U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Livermore Homes and Plutonium Make Bad Neighbors," POGO, March 17, 2008)
But as POGO senior investigator Peter Stockton told The Washington Times: "It is important to emphasize that Livermore's security problems are not the fault of the guard force, who have complained about their lack of training and poor tactics. In fact, two security officers were fired for raising these problems."
Is there a pattern here? As with other spectacular failures by the Bush administration and their corporate cronies, why not, if you'll pardon the pun, shoot the messenger? After all, its less politically risky than bringing high-end lab executives and senior managers to account.
In 2005 the Department of Energy "approved the doubling of the amount of plutonium stored at Livermore, less than five months after a scientific panel recommended, for security reasons, that nearly all of it be moved to a safer, more remote site," TIME revealed.
Yet despite this alarming disclosure, the NNSA, allegedly the prime defender of the "homeland" against terrorists intent on deploying weapons of mass destruction, gave their political masters--the nuclear weapons industry--a free pass when it came to (our) safety. This too, is hardly surprising given the make-up of the lab's administrative "team."