Y-12 site manager, fired security guard could testify at protester trial

Plowshares Protesters Jury Selection

Anti-nuclear weapons activists Megan Rice, left, and Greg Boertje-Obed are pictured with Michele Naar-Obed after jury selection in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Monday. Rice and Boertje-Obed and a third defendant, Michael Walli, are on trial this week for vandalizing a uranium storage building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July.

This story was updated at 9 p.m.

KNOXVILLE—A federal official who oversees production work at two nuclear weapons plants and the guard who was fired after the unprecedented security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July could both testify this week during the trial of three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of vandalizing a uranium storage building.

The federal official, Steven C. Erhart, oversees nuclear production work at Y-12 and the Pantex Site in Amarillo, Texas. He manages the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, or NPO.

The guard, Kirk Garland, was the first security officer to reach the three anti-nuclear weapons activists, who cut through three fences in a high-security Protected Area at Y-12 before dawn on July 28 and splashed human blood and spray-painted slogans on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. Garland was fired Aug. 10, a few weeks after the intrusion. [Read more…]

Guard, union president defend security officer performance during Y-12 breach

The work of a few security guards has been heavily scrutinized and repeatedly criticized since the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Last week, the criticism came from members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who also directed their frustration at U.S. Department of Energy officials and the plant’s contractors, calling the security breach “appalling” and an “all-out failure.”

But in recent interviews, a guard and union representative defended the performance of the security police officers at Y-12.

“I did my job exactly the way I’ve been trained for 30 years,” said Kirk Garland, who was the first security guard to reach the three anti-nuclear weapons activists who sneaked into Y-12 before dawn on July 28 and vandalized a building where bomb-grade uranium is stored.

[Read more…]