Security 500 conference     

 Don’t miss the networking event of the year for security executives!
Register today for the Security 500 Conference.

Security Newswire
Security News -- Perimeter Security

Audit Finds Multiple Security Lapses at Y-12 Nuclear Facility

September 4, 2012

Contractors in charge of guarding the national stockpile of bomb-grade uranium in Tennessee knew long before an 82-year-old nun and two other pacifists broke through three barriers this summer that much of the facility’s security equipment was broken – and government managers knew it too, according to an article from the New York Times.

According to an internal audit of Energy Department operations at the weapons facility, which found “troubling displays of ineptitude,” the Y-12 facility’s internal communications were generally so poor that officers told auditors that it was not unusual for roofers or utility repair personnel to show up unannounced. They also told authorities that when they heard the trespassers banging on the exterior wall of the storage building with hammers, they assumed it was maintenance workers, the New York Times reports.

The Energy Department’s inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, said in the report that the episode showed “multiple system failures on many levels,” also saying that the facility would spend $150 million on security this year.

According to the Times,  the government had skimped on security hardware before the building was finished in 2008, the report says, and the National Nuclear Security Agency – part of the Energy Department formed to handle weapons security after a previous scandal – told managers at the site last year to plan for reduced security funds.

As a result, contractor WSI-Oak Ridge cut back on patrols and announced plans to cut 70 security staff positions, although these plans have been canceled following July’s breach, the article says.

Before July’s incident, the article reports, the contractor conducted “self-assessment” reports that concluded that security was good. These were endorsed by government site managers despite “a number of known security-related problems at Y-12,” the report says, citing broken cameras and other unspecified sensing equipment, the Times reports.

According to the Times article, the “governance model” at the site “did not identify the weaknesses that contributed to the security incident,” the report said. Federal officials told the auditors that under their management rules, they did not believe they could intervene in the security contractor’s operations to complain about broken equipment.

Some sites repair broken sensors and cameras within 24 hours; Y-12 set a window of 5 to 10 days, but that was only a goal, not a rule, the report said.

Since the breach, the plant’s general manager has been removed, along with the leaders of the guard force.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Security Magazine. 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

ASIS 2013 Product Preview

ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27 in Chicago, Illinois, will include an exhibit hall packed with innovative security solutions. Here are some of the products that will be shown at ASIS this year.


Virtualization and Data Center Security: What You Need to Know for 2014

Data centers are increasingly becoming the center of the enterprise, and data center and cyber security is following the same path for security departments. According to Justin Flynn, a consultant at the Burwood Group, the virtualization of data centers allows enterprises to scale more easily and faster, with a smaller footprint.

However, hosting enterprise data in the cloud can make intrusion detection more difficult – how can enterprise security leaders team up with other departments to keep aware of cyber risks and traffic, and physical and data compliance during the virtual transition? How can CISOs and CSOs discuss cyber threats with the C-Suite to get the resources they need? And how can the proper infrastructure test and verify possible malicious attacks? 

More Podcasts

Security Magazine

Security Magazine 2014 September cover

2014 October

Security takes a look at safety and preparedness for the harshest of weather phenomena in this October 2014 edition of the magazine. Also, we investigate supply chain security and the many benefits of PSIM. 

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Travel & the Ebola Risk

Are you and your enterprise restricting travel due to Ebola risks?
View Results Poll Archive


CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide
CompTIA's Security+ certification is a globally-recognized, vendor neutral exam that has helped over 60,000 IT professionals reach further and higher in their careers. The current Security+ exam (SY0-201) focuses more on being able to deal with security issues rather than just identifying them.
More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Facebook 40px 2-12-13 Twitter logo 40px 2-12-13  YouTube  LinkedIn logo 40px 2-12-13Google+

Vertical Sector Focus: Critical Infrastructures

criticalhomepagethumbFrom terrorism to vandalism, it’s preparedness, response, training and partnerships. Learn about some of the critical security issues facing this sector.

Visit the Critical Infrastructure page to read more.