Four guards have been suspended at the Y-12 National Security Complex after a woman who did not have permission to be at the nuclear weapons plant drove through the main entrance on Thursday morning and was stopped a short time later, a federal spokesman said Monday.
The woman, who said she was looking for a new, low-cost apartment complex, followed morning commuters through the east gate at Bear Creek and Scarboro roads and drove unhindered through the plant before she was stopped by security officers at the west gate, according to an Oak Ridge Police Department report. Brenda L. Haptonstall, 62, told ORPD Officer Roy J. Heinz that she thought there must have been a crash at Y-12 because there were “nice officers waving her through with illuminated flashlight cones,” the report said.
But that’s not the normal procedure, said Steven Wyatt, public affairs manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office.
“The normal procedure is to physically inspect the badge and to confirm the identity of each individual,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt said the suspended workers include three security police officers, or SPOs, and one SPO supervisor. He did not respond to a question about how long they will be suspended, or whether they will continue to be paid.
In a Friday statement, Wyatt said the officers involved “have been removed from duty pending the outcome of an investigation.” Gate procedures are being reviewed, and supervisors placed at each entrance to monitor the work of Y-12 security personnel until further notice, Wyatt said.
“We have zero tolerance for security lapses and we are ensuring there is full accountability for this unacceptable incident,” he said. “Safety and security are NNSA’s top priorities, and the causes of this failure will be reviewed aggressively and corrected quickly.”
The drive-through occurred at about 6:10 a.m. Thursday. Wyatt said most employees enter the plant at that time because of the four-day, 10-hour work schedule.
“SPOs are supposed to check each person entering the plant,” Wyatt said.
He declined to say whether the west gate might be an entrance or an exit to the more sensitive west end of the plant.
“All I can confirm is that she was detained quickly after entering the site,” Wyatt said. “She did not have access to sensitive areas of Y-12, and no material or facilities were ever at risk.”
Haptonstall told Heinz that she had driven to the general area where she thought the apartment complex was located. She said she approached the security gate believing she was on the right road and continued down Bear Creek Road looking for the apartments.
Wyatt said he is not aware of any other similar incident. The ORPD report said security personnel declined to prosecute Haptonstall.
Wyatt confirmed that there were delays getting into Y-12 on Monday morning, and traffic was backed up on Scarboro Road.