There is a greater threat of trespassing at the Y-12 National Security Complex, the National Nuclear Security Administration said last week when it announced plans for a new fence that would block a traditional protest area at the plant’s main entrance.
And the costs of responding to those threats are increasing, the NNSA said.
“Responding to these illegal acts of trespassing has cost the U.S. government thousands of dollars of additional expenses above and beyond what we have to spend to protect the plant during major protests,” the NNSA said in a statement released by spokesman Steven Wyatt on Saturday. “The security-related costs required to respond to protests is very large, but we cannot discuss our specific costs.”
Wyatt said there were additional costs for other agencies.
“These are the costs borne by NNSA and do not include what is spent by the City of Oak Ridge for their manpower as well as other organizations such as the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other law enforcement organizations,” he said.
The NNSA announced last week that it was erecting the fence at Bear Creek and Scarboro roads in response to the greater trespassing threat and increasing costs. But critics of Y-12’s nuclear weapons work, who have protested in that now-closed area in front of the plant for years, have called the fence an assault on their First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech. They’ve filed a legal challenge, and that case is pending in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
Erected last week, a temporary version of the fence is expected to cost about $95,000. Wyatt has said a permanent version will cost about $150,000.
There have been three trespassing incidents involving five people at Y-12 in the past year, including the most well-known, the July 28 security breach.