Note: This story was updated to add a link for watching the hearing live.
The July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex is expected to be one of the topics discussed during a Wednesday morning hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Witnesses scheduled to testify during the hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee include Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman and DOE Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman.
Poneman will be accompanied by Thomas P. D’Agostino, National Nuclear Security Administration administrator, and Glenn S. Podonsky, DOE’s chief health, safety, and security officer.
A webcast could be available on this page: http://energycommerce.house.gov/studio/webcasts. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee should be Webcast A.
Friedman signed a critical August report on the Y-12 security breach that identified “multiple system failures on several levels.” The report found “troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms,” failures to maintain critical security equipment, misunderstanding of security protocols, and poor communications, among other things.
It also found weaknesses in contract and resource management.
Among the issues that could be considered at Wednesday’s hearing are:
- What was the role of federal oversight and management in the Y-12 security breach?
- What are the risks to reducing oversight of DOE contractors working in the nuclear weapons complex?
- Is federal oversight, independent of NNSA and the contractors needed, and if so, why?
Wednesday’s hearing starts at 10 a.m. It is titled “DOE’s Nuclear Weapons Complex: Challenges to Safety, Security, and Taxpayer Stewardship.”
In his testimony, Poneman cited a range of actions taken since the security breach, which allowed three anti-nuclear weapons activists to penetrate a high-security area at Y-12 and spray-paint slogans and splash human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored. The changes include reassigning the NNSA chief of defense nuclear security pending the outcome of a review, and removing the leadership of the Y-12 guard force as well as six top contractor executives responsible for security.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who represents the 7th District in middle and west Tennessee, is a member of the subcommittee.