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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Defense Department should take over security for U.S. nuclear weapons sites after a nuclear complex was broken into with ease in July by an 82-year-old nun and two other peace activists, a top lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Friday.
Mike Turner, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services panel that oversees the Energy Department's nuclear weapons complex, has drafted legislation to put the U.S. military in charge of protecting facilities like the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
"The fact that this vulnerability is so widely known has got to be addressed," Turner said in an interview.
The Y-12 facility, built after the September 11, 2001, attacks, had been previously touted as "the Fort Knox of uranium" and was supposed to be one of the most secure facilities in the United States.
But in July, the three anti-nuclear activists cut through several fences and vandalized a building which holds the U.S. stockpile of highly enriched uranium used to make nuclear bombs.
An internal Energy Department watchdog found guards ignored motion sensors because they were routinely triggered by wildlife, and a security camera that should have shown the break-in had been broken for about six months.
The National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department, is continuing to investigate what went wrong with its oversight of contractors.
What We RegulateThe NRC's domestic safeguards program is aimed at ensuring that special nuclear material within the United States is not stolen or otherwise diverted from civilian facilities for possible use in clandestine fissile explosives and does not pose an unreasonable risk owing to radiological sabotage. The users of the special nuclear and certain quantities of biproduct material apply safeguards to protect against sabotage, theft, and diversion, including
•Physical protection of facilities and/or special nuclear material at both fixed sites and during transportation and
•Material control and accounting for special nuclear material.
In order to determine how much physical protection is enough, the NRC has a threat assessment program to maintain awareness of the capabilities of potential adversaries and threats to facilities, material, and activities.
How We Regulate•Regulations, Guidance, and Communications
Protection of Nuclear Facilities
Nuclear facilities that require physical protection include nuclear reactors, fuel cycle facilities, and spent fuel storage and disposal facilities. Physical protection programs for these facilities include the following key features:
•Threat Assessment to determine how much physical protection is enough
•Physical Protection Areas graded to provide defense-in-depth with barriers and controls for the Exclusion Area, Protected Area, Vital Area, and Material Access Area
•Intrusion Detection to notify the site’s security force of a potential intruder
•Intrusion Alarm Assessment to distinguish between false or nuisance alarms and actual intrusions and to initiate response
•Armed Response to protect public health and safety and the common defense and security, by defending nuclear material or a nuclear facility against an intrusion or attack
•Regulatory Initiatives to ensure that the NRC’s Domestic Safeguards Regulations, Guidance, and Communications continue to adequately protect the Nation’s nuclear facilities and material in a changing threat environment
In addition, local, State, and Federal agencies may provide offsite assistance, as necessary.
To protect public health and safety and the common defense and security, the licensee is responsible for defending nuclear material or a nuclear facility against an attack, using armed responders. This may include the use of deadly force if necessary.
Response capabilities•Fixed Sites: Depending upon the significance of the material or facilities being protected, armed response to an unauthorized intrusion into a protected area and attack on a nuclear facility could be by the --
◦Licensee's on-site armed security force, with the Local Law Enforcement Authority (LLEA) and FBI arriving later
•Transportation: Armed response to an attack on a nuclear transport would be by the --
◦Licensee's armed escorts in the case of a shipment of Category I material (strategically significant SNM), with FBI and LLEA arriving later.
◦Licensee's armed escorts and LLEA in the case of a shipment of spent fuel or other high activity shipments.
Response Preparation•Response elements must be appropriately armed and in sufficient number to counter the potential threat.
•A licensee's armed security officers undergo significant training and qualification in, among other things:
◦nuclear and radiation safety
◦use of force
•Because of redundancy of safety equipment at nuclear facilities, the plant may elect a protection strategy that protects only a subset of vital equipment. The subset is determined in advance to be sufficient to permit safe shutdown of the reactor or facility. The subset to protect may vary depending upon where the adversary enters the protected area.
•Interaction with the LLEA includes advance planning and coordination, including familiarity tours.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012
Originally posted by TDawgRex
reply to post by Xcathdra
I actually like Wrabbits idea. Keep the Bubbas there but have a rotating reaction force inside or nearby.
But in that same sense, if your reaction force is called out...it's probably to late already.