A plan to cut up to 34 guard positions at the Y-12 National Security Complex has been canceled, a federal spokesman said Tuesday.
WSI Oak Ridge, which provides security at Y-12, no longer has the authority to restructure its staff since it is now a subcontractor reporting to B&W Y-12, rather than the National Nuclear Security Administration, said Steven Wyatt, public affairs manager for the NNSA Production Office in Oak Ridge. That change in reporting authority followed an unprecedented July 28 security breach at the plant, the nation’s main production facility for many nuclear weapons components.
The WSI plan had called for cutting a total of up to 52 jobs at Y-12 and the East Tennessee Technology Park. Employees were to be offered voluntary separations, and today was supposed to be the last work day for those who were accepted.
WSI Public Affairs Manager Courtney Russell Henry did not immediately respond to a question about whether the plan to cut staff at ETTP has also been canceled.
The restructuring plan announced in July called for a reduction of up to 34 security police officer and three staff positions at Y-12. It also called for the elimination of up to 14 security police officer positions and one staff member at ETTP.
The proposed reductions followed reviews by the NNSA, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office, and WSI.
A statement then said the staff reductions would not affect security at Oak Ridge facilities “due to dramatic improvements in physical security that have been completed in recent years at Y-12 and to changes in mission at ORO.”
On Tuesday, Wyatt said there are now no plans to pursue a restructuring of the Y-12 protective force.
The July 28 security breach occurred when three anti-nuclear weapons activists allegedly sneaked into the plant, cut through fences, entered a high-security area, and spray-painted slogans and splashed human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, or HEUMF, where bomb-grade uranium is stored. The protesters were arrested, and they face an Oct. 10 trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
Since the security breach, some employees have been replaced or suspended, others have retired, and one guard has been fired. There was also a two-week halt in nuclear operations at Y-12 that ended Aug. 15, and B&W Y-12 was given 30 days to show why its contract to manage and operate the plant should not be terminated.
Officials have said the security breach is being investigated.