All that firepower couldn’t keep out an 82-year-old nun. The official description of the image reads, “The new D-clip will be the third safety measure for the Dillon guns to be used by Y‑12’s protective force.” (Image credit: Y-12 National Security Complex/Department of Energy)
In yet another case demonstrating just how farcical and laughable so-called homeland security can be, three anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, breached the highly secure Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee with nothing other than bolt cutters.
To make matters even more unbelievable, the group announced their arrival from a distance of a half mile and then remained on the grounds of the nuclear complex for some two hours without being discovered.
This is no minor security breach we’re talking about, here. The Y-12 National Security Complex, which some liken to the highly secure Fort Knox, likening it to the “Fort Knox of Uranium,” is where some nuclear weapons components are manufactured.
In a somewhat hilarious side note, the official website for Y-12 highlights their “Alarm Response Training which, “prepares and trains personnel responding to civilian nuclear and radiological security alarms.”
Personally, I don’t think that a complex such as this should be consulting individuals on responding to any security alarms seeing as they can’t manage to keep out an 82-year-old nun with bolt cutters or even detect her presence (along with two others) for a whopping two hours.
Keep in mind, the video they provide promoting their Alarm Response Training highlights the supposed terrorist interest in any place with highly radioactive nuclear materials. If individuals like these could easily breach a facility like this undetected for an extended period, isn’t it rational to think that terrorists could easily gain access as well?
It seems clear that a terrorist would have easily been able to gain access to the supposedly secure Y-12 complex.
The individuals who breached the facility – 82-year-old Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli – cut through three fences with bolt cutters, trigged alarms and still managed to stay undetected in a secure area for two hours.
According to the Associated Press, the trio spent their time inside the facility spray-painting and throwing blood on the walls of the white Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) within Y-12.
One of the most insane parts of this story is that this is not the only incident at Y-12. In 2002 on New Year’s Day, twelve protesters carrying 14-foot flags and candles marched right onto the Y-12 facility and stopped three separate times for prayer services. Guards took action only after a motorist who happened to see them reported their presence to the guards.
In 2003, guards allegedly “cheated” on a mock assault drill while at a later date a refrigerator was shot with a live round after being mixed in with blanks.
In 2004, participants were allegedly put at risk of being shot by a “shadow force” of on-duty officers during another training exercise.
Between 2000 and 2008, a whopping seven guards were caught napping at the facility, which makes one wonder how many fell asleep and didn’t get caught.
Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance rightly told the Associated Press, “We’re paying all that money for an illusion of security — and you really can’t secure the plant.”
“The reality is nobody ever attacks these facilities,” said Matthew Bunn, an associate professor at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. “And getting everyone constantly on their tippy-toes of preparedness for an attack that never comes is a difficult problem.”
However, I don’t think that anyone should take this breach lightly considering the fact that there is a supposed terrorist threat that justifies the stripping of our most essential liberties.
The Y-12 facility not only fashions the uranium components for U.S. nuclear warheads, they are also the largest source for weapons grade uranium for the U.S. and they dismantle old warheads as well.
In an attempt to defend their laughable security, officials with the contractor managing the facility, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, LLC, claimed that there was never any risk of the activists getting to dangerous materials.
Unsurprisingly, the president and general manager of the division of Babcock & Wilcox charged with running Y-12, Darrel Kohlhorst, retired after the incident.
“Our (protection force) is deployed so that any serious attempt to attack the facility would be repulsed well in advance of any credible threat,” claimed Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Y-12, in an emailed statement.
Peter Stockton, a former adviser to the Department of Energy, told the Washington Post, “We were lucky in that regard that it was the nun and her cohorts, rather than a serious terrorist outfit.”
While this is true, it hardly makes the situation any more tolerable.
While Kohlhorst was left optimistic, saying, “Well, I think it did show us we had some weaknesses. We had some deficiencies. The team has really attacked those things and corrected them, and I think we’re actually going to be a lot stronger coming out of this thing,” Stockton was much more cautious.
Stockton noted that had it not been peaceful activists, the situation likely would have been much worse.
“You get through the fences, you get to the building, and if you have special forces guys — dedicated guys who are suicidal and heavily armed — all you do is blow the door off or blow a hole in the side of the building,” he said.
The most important aspect of this story, in my opinion, is the fact that it highlights the complete absurdity of the claims being made by our government in regards to the threat of terrorism.
If we actually were being besieged by huge numbers of international and domestic terrorists, don’t you think they would have been able to waltz into one of these facilities, just like the 82-year-old nun and her companions?
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