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Thread: Y-12 break in

  1. #1
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10

    Y-12 break in

    Two years old already but heard about this story yesterday and did not see any mention of it here. The talk i was listening to mentioned fissile material that exists in vast amounts around the world even though the number of nukes is fewer today the material available is enough for tens of thousands.

    an 82-year-old nun, a 57 yr old housepainter and military veteran and a 63 yr old gardener break into a weaponised nuke storage facility to protest nukes.

    More details of stunning Y-12 break-in; protesters offered bread to guards | Jul 21 2012

    OAK RIDGE — Emerging accounts of what took place in Saturday's predawn hours at Y-12 are surely unlike any of the threat scenarios regularly tested during security exercises at the government installation. It apparently was a surreal scene inside the nuclear weapons plant.

    Around 4:30 a.m., Y-12's protective force responded to a sensor on the PIDAS (perimeter intrusion detection and assessment system) that indicated an unauthorized entry into the so-called Protected Area, where work on nuclear warheads takes place.

    As it turned out, there was no terrorist attack under way. Nor was the alarm tripped by a wayward deer or other critters that sometimes prove to be a security nuisance at the plant.

    Instead, three aging peaceniks were hanging banners in the dark, splashing blood, and painting messages on the plant's pride-and-joy storage facility, a $549 million fortress which contains the nation's primary supply of bomb-grade uranium.

    As they were confronted by a heavily armed guard, the anti-nukes protesters — Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun; Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, a housepainter and military veteran; and Michael Walli, 63, a gardener and Roman Catholic layman — reportedly began reading a prepared statement about their beliefs and opposition to nuclear weapons.

    "He was on his walkie-talkie talking, but he heard it," Rice told one of the protest supporters in a jailhouse telephone conversation.

    Before they were ordered to halt and kneel, the protesters reportedly offered to break bread with the guards and displayed their possessions — a Bible, candles and white roses. They also sang.

    Their words and actions were not that unusual. They were standard fare for many protests staged around the U.S. and beyond. What was unusual was where these acts took place — the inner sanctum of the Oak Ridge weapons facility — which heretofore had been portrayed as impenetrable and deadly dangerous to unauthorized visitors.

    Indeed, Y-12 spokesman Steven Wyatt said it was fortunate that no one was hurt or killed in the weekend break-in: "The protesters put themselves at a high risk of losing their life in performing this act. We are thankful that did not occur."

    The details of how the three got to the highest-security part of Y-12 are not yet known, although Ellen Barfield of Baltimore, Md. — a friend of the protesters who's served as a spokeswoman, of sorts, for the activities — said they used wire-cutters to gain entry through multiple fences.

    Barfield also indicated she'd heard the protesters talk about crossing a ridge in order to get into Y-12, but she said she had no further information. The federal plant is bordered by Pine Ridge on the north, separating Y-12 from the Scarboro community, and Chestnut Ridge on the south.

    Wackenhut Services, the security contractor for the past decade, has frequently bragged on the security capabilities at Y-12 and the massive firepower that's available, if necessary, to overtake an adversary force. Courtney Henry, a spokeswoman for the contractor, declined to comment Monday and referred questions about the incident to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

    "There will be lessons learned from this incident that we will use to further refine and improve our security posture at Y-12," NNSA's Wyatt said.

    There was no immediate comment on whether the NNSA and Wackenhut would pull back on plans to eliminate about 50 security jobs in Oak Ridge — including 34 security police jobs at Y-12 — in the wake of the security breach this past weekend.

    The three protesters identified themselves as "Transform Now Plowshares," a title given to their direct action at Y-12.

    While there is no specific Plowshares protest group nationally, there is a movement or philosophy of using stunning actions at high-profile facilities to draw attention to nuclear disarmament and related causes.

    The first Plowshares protest took place on Sept. 9, 1980, when several individuals entered a General Electric missile facility at King of Prussia, Pa., poured their own blood onto files and documents, and damaged nose cones for a couple of nuclear warheads under development there.

    Two years ago, four members of the original "Plowshares Eight" came to East Tennessee for a reunion of that action and other peace activism. One of those was John Schuchardt, who also participated in a July 5, 2010, protest at Y-12 during his visit.

    In an interview, Schuchardt recalled details of entering the highly secure GE site 30 years earlier, noting the protesters used diversionary tactics while blending in with the workforce at the site.

    At the time, he confidently predicted that mindful protesters could also reach Y-12's inner sanctum, if so desired.

    "Yes," he said. "No question.

    They were sentenced earlier this year.

    U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar in Knoxville, Tenn., sentenced Rice to 35 months in prison for her role in the July 28, 2012, break-in and protest. The judge sentenced Walli and Boertje-Obed both to five years and two months in prison. Previously, Thapar had ordered the trio to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution for damaging U.S. government property.

    In addition, Walli and Boertje-Obed will have three years of supervised release after their prison terms. The two men received longer sentences based on their criminal history.
    The fallout from the break-in was swift. The incident prompted the Department of Energy to take immediate action. It increased patrols and removed the guard force's general manager and two of his key staff.

    Congress had hearings and newly appointed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz called the break-in unacceptable. Security experts have said the breach raised questions about not only about how the nation protects its nuclear weapons and materials but also how private companies secure civilian sites such as nuclear-power plants.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 05 Nov 14, at 06:50.

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