Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Security Failures at the Y-12 National Security Complex

The Y-12 National Security Complex is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and it's purpose is related to the support of the United States nuclear weapons.  On July 28, protesters cut through three fences and were able to get into the nuclear plant's uranium storage facility.

Knox News - A lot went wrong at Y-12

Apparently there were multiple issues.  First note, the cameras were not working. For any agency that utilizes cameras for physical security, they must make sure that the cameras are properly positioned and operating.  If one goes out, then the appropriate paperwork must be filed or the proper people contacted in order to make notification that they must be repaired.  Sadly, the major problem in fixing cameras is often money, or the lack there of.

Second, there appeared to be apathy on the part of the staff.  There were alarms going off in the location of the problem, however the security staff failed to respond in a timely manner.  What causes this?  There could be a culture of apathy at the plant.  This could be caused by low morale, or possibly by the fact that the staff had no motivation to do their job properly.  IE: they had no expectations of punishment if their job was done poorly and there was no expectation of rewards if they did their job right.  Or worse, we can tie the apathy back to a lack of proper maintenance or equipment.

Personal story:  At one DOC facility I personally witnessed their electronic perimeter fence security in failure.  They were constantly getting false readings and were constantly checking out the fence.  I could not get the assistance of the perimeter gate security to secure my firearm because as soon as they arrived they had to leave to check out a perimeter alarm.  When I finally had my firearm secured, the officer assisting me inside the sallyport was called twice to check on perimeter fence alarms immediately adjacent to his location.  These areas were in plain view of the sallyport.  (The sally port was simply a fenced in area and the electronic perimeter fence alarms to be checked only covered approximately 40 feet on each side of the sallyport, possibly even less.)  I could see no people, no animals, not even wind blown leaves to set off the system.  As it was explained to me, the system was exceptionally faulty and there false alarms were constant.  It was stated that fixing the perimeter alarm system was too expensive.

The news report only covered the basics of the problem.  However, I'm sure the problems with the security at Y-12 may be much deeper than we realize.  And the contractors and Federal Government may not even comprehend the problems if they uncover them.

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