Several workers at the Y-12 National Security Complex have been fired,
suspended or reassigned in the wake of last weekend's security breach by
three Plowshares anti-nuclear weapons protestors.
That's according to a statement released by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Friday evening.
On July 28, around 3 a.m., 63-year-old Michael Walli, 57-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and 82-year-old Sister Megan Rice cut through four fences at Y-12 and made their way to the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, according to Ellen Barfield, a spokeswoman for the trio.
While there, in what officials have described as a "high-security area," they hung banners on the building and then spray painted, hammered and splashed human blood on the walls. They called themselves "Transform Now Plowshares," identifying with the peace movement that opposes nuclear weapons.
Initially, the three were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, but on Friday, new charges of felony destruction of property were filed against them.
Rice and Walli were later released, but Boertje-Obed did not request a detainment hearing and will remain in jail.
Just days after the weekend incident, the security complex's contractor, B&W Y-12, ordered a "stand-down" of all nuclear production activities at the site.
And now, energy officials are taking further steps, terminating, firing and reassigning several employees. All employees are undergoing further training as well. Meanwhile, a former head of security has been brought in to evaluate the site.
National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Tom D'Agostino also was at Y-12 Friday to gather information and assess the situation.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu released the following statement:
"Safety and security at the sites where nuclear materials are stored is of the utmost importance. The incident at Y-12 earlier this week was an unacceptable and deeply troubling breach. This incident was not consistent with the level of professionalism and expertise we expect from our guard force and all of those federal employees and contractors responsible for security across the DOE complex."
"Earlier this week we decided to halt nuclear operations at the site, the guards involved in this incident were suspended, the General Manager of the contractor protective force and two members of his leadership team were removed from their positions and all employees at the site are undergoing additional security training. The Department has no tolerance for security breaches at any of our sites, and I am committed to ensuring that those responsible will be held accountable."
"Today, I am also announcing that a relevant federal official at the site has been temporarily reassigned, pending the outcome of the investigation and we have brought General Rodney Johnson, Deputy manager of NNSA's Pantex site and a former head of security to Y-12 to help strengthen security at the site. In addition, the Department's chief of Health, Safety and Security Glenn Podonsky has sent a team to Y-12 to support NNSA's efforts and will conduct a separate independent investigation."
"I am committed to ensuring that we learn the appropriate lessons from this incident and apply those lessons across our complex. I have directed NNSA and HSS to assess security at all of our sensitive sites to ensure we have the right security policies in place so all nuclear material remains safe and secure. Furthermore, the Department will further strengthen its program to continue independently testing our guard force to ensure they are performing their security function fully and completely."