IG report finds ‘multiple system failures’ at Y-12, inept alarm responses

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General has released a report on the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and it found “multiple system failures on several levels,” including ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical security equipment, misunderstanding of security protocols, and poor communications.

There was also an over-reliance on “compensatory measures,” and weaknesses in contract and resource management, said the 18-page report, released about one month after the security breach. In addition, “contractor governance and federal oversight failed to identify and correct early indicators of these multiple system breakdowns.

“When combined, these issues directly contributed to an atmosphere in which the trespassers could gain access to the protected security area directly adjacent to one of the nation’s most critically important and highly secured weapons-related facilities,” according to a summary of the report posted on the OIG website.

The report acknowledged that Y-12 and the National Nuclear Security Administration took a number of actions designed to improve security at the site after the breach.

“However, the successful intrusion at Y-12 raised serious questions about the overall security approach at the facility,” it said.

The report summary said prompt and effective corrective actions are essential given the unprecedented nature of this security event.

“Accordingly, we made several recommendations for corrective actions in the report,” it said. “NNSA management agreed to implement the report’s recommendations and outlined a number of corrective actions it had initiated or completed. Management’s comments were responsive to the report and its recommendations.”

The security breach occurred when three anti-nuclear weapons activists sneaked into Y-12 early in the morning on Saturday, July 28, allegedly cutting through three fences, entering a high-security Protected Area, and spray-painting slogans and splashing human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Material Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.

More information will be added later.

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