Y-12 cameras weren’t working, guards failed to react, federal letter says

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The three anti-nuclear weapons activists pictured above sneaked into a high-security area at the Y-12 National Security Complex on July 28 and triggered a security crisis that has led to personnel changes, a temporary halt in nuclear operations, and a potential termination of a federal contract with B&W Y-12. From left to right, the three protesters are Michael R. Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed. (Submitted photo)

Note: This story was last updated at 9:32 a.m. Aug. 15.

Many security cameras weren’t working when three anti-nuclear weapons activists sneaked into the Y-12 National Security Complex early in the morning on Saturday, July 28, a federal official said in a critical letter released Tuesday evening.

One of those cameras was near a fence penetrated by the protesters, who allegedly used bolt-cutters to slice through three fences before they walked to a high-security building known as the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.

The intruders, who allegedly spray-painted slogans and splashed human blood on the HEUMF, set off many alarms in a “multi-layered sensor system” in a fence line, but the Y-12 protective force failed to react, the official said.

When guards alerted by the alarms responded with a vehicle patrol, it took them too long to arrive at the scene, and once there, they “failed to take appropriate steps to take control of the situation,” said the official,¬†National Nuclear Security Administration Contracting Officer Jill Y. Albaugh. She said a responding supervisor finally took control and removed the protesters.

Written Friday, Albaugh’s letter gives¬†Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, the plant’s managing and operating contractor, 30 days to show why the federal government should not proceed to terminate its contract.

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