A group that's been protesting nuclear activities at Y-12 for years has filed a suit asking the Department of Energy to remove a temporary security fence that was built in April.
The National Nuclear Security Administration announced it would extend Y-12's boundary fence to prevent trespassers. The new fence extends along Scarboro Road, restricting access near the Y-12 entrance sign and along the side of New Hope Center.
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) meets every Sunday for a vigil near the entrance sign.
A temporary fence is in place now, but the DOE has plans to build a more permanent perimeter.
OREPA filed a complaint in federal court in Knoxville on Friday, seeking a preliminary injunction to require DOE to remove the fence.
In a press release, OREPA's coordinator, Ralph Hutchison, said, "The National Nuclear Security Administration launched a brazen assault on our first amendment right to free speech and free assembly. We believe the First Amendment is more powerful that NNSA's bogus security claim, and we expect the courts to grant the relief we seek."
OREPA says they, along with other groups, have used the same site for more than 25 years, with more than 700 gatherings. They say violence has never been a part of any of their demonstrations.
The group wants the fence removed before August 6, to allow for the Names and Remembrance ceremony they hold annually to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
"We have met in this spot on August 6 for twenty-five years. It is important to bear witness here, in the place that gave birth to the bomb, to call the world to remember, to join our voices with the survivors of the bombings to say, 'Never Again.' No other place on earth has the same moment as this place, the front door of the bomb plant."
In April, Y-12 Spokesman Steven Wyatt addressed the groups complaints about the fence, "While the new fence isn't designed to prevent people from crossing it, it does notify individuals that they are not permitted to go further into the site. This will allow Y-12 security to act sooner if the fence is crossed."
Y-12 has made more efforts to review security in light of several recent incidents. The most serious was last summer, when three protestors managed to penetrate several gates.
In May, all three defendants were found guilty of sabotage and damaging property in excess of $1,000. They face a maximum of up to 30 years in prison.