OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE – In an inconceivable breach, an 82-year-old nun along with two other seniors somehow managed to evade what the U.S. government calls the “most stringent security in the world” to break into a nuclear weapons laboratory often referred to as the “Fort Knox of Uranium.”
So much for the feds protecting nuclear labs from a terrorist attack with topnotch—and costly—security systems; this staggering story comes from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It’s operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is responsible for the management and security of the country’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation and naval reactor programs.
This is serious stuff, which is why Uncle Sam allocates hundreds of millions of dollars to secure facilities like the Y-12 National Security Complex. It has a sophisticated $500 million system that includes high-tech cameras and sensors, according to a news wire dedicated to covering homeland security issues. There is also a substantial staff of guards and the property is surrounded by huge security towers and special fences.
After all, the Y-12 National Security Complex is the country’s main storage facility for bomb-grade uranium and it makes uranium parts for every warhead in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Old weapons are also dismantled at the compound, which claims to “maintain the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.” On its website the Y-12 also assures that it reduces the “global threat posed by nuclear proliferation and terrorism” and that it provides “safe and effective nuclear propulsion systems for the U.S. Navy.”
So how did an 82-year-old Catholic nun, a renowned antinuclear activist long on the government’s radar, and her two buddies—one 63 and the other 57—penetrate the facility and go undetected by security for two hours? With flashlights and bolt cutters, according to various news reports. The trio of protesters also splashed blood around the nuclear complex and hung banners outside its walls.
The story was so unbelievable that one the nation’s largest newspapers wrote a profile on the Roman Catholic nun, Sister Megan Rice who has been charged with federal trespassing and destruction of property. She’s been arrested before for acts of civil disobedience, the story says, but this was the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex. This is a huge embarrassment for President Obama, the article points out, reminding that he led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism.