Security at the main entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex appeared about average Sunday night for an annual August protest, but it wasn’t clear what internal measures had been taken one week after an unprecedented intrusion into a high-security area.
About 50 protesters attended a Sunday night vigil at the plant organized by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. During the annual protest, activists recall the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, and oppose Y-12’s nuclear weapons work, calling for disarmament instead.
The OREPA protests often feature civil disobedience, with protesters briefly blocking the Scarboro Road entrance to Y-12, but OREPA Coordinator Ralph Hutchison said he was unaware of any plans to block the road this year.
After last night’s vigil, a few protesters planned to stay overnight near the plant’s main entrance for what they were calling Occupy Y-12, opposing plans to build a uranium processing facility that they say could cost $7.5 billion.
But Steven Wyatt, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman at Y-12, said camping was not allowed, and the protesters left at about 10 p.m.
Wyatt said he could not give not details on the security used for this year’s OREPA protest. He called it “appropriate for the anticipated event.
“I can’t provide any specifics on our tactical planning,” Wyatt said.
OREPA members and supporters planned to have a remembrance ceremony this morning, remembering those who died in the bombing of Hiroshima. Y-12 enriched uranium for that bomb, code-named “Little Boy.”
“We’re saying never again,” Hutchison said.
During the remembrance ceremony, organizers also toll a bell, tie peace cranes to a fence surrounding the Y-12 plant, and read eyewitness accounts of the bomb’s destruction. They have a moment of silence followed by Buddhist drumming and chanting.
Other OREPA events planned this week including a peace lantern building party in Knoxville on Wednesday and a peace lantern ceremony at 8 p.m. Thursday on the west end of Sequoyah Hills Park in Knoxville. It includes a remembrance of the victims of bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 9, 1945.
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