Nearly eight months after an unprecedented break-in at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, 10News has received a copy of the response its former contractor filed with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) explaining what happened at what's supposed to be among the most secure buildings in the world.
The NNSA issued a "show cause" to then contractor Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) a few weeks after three protestors broke into the complex in the early morning hours of July 28, 2012. That put B&W on notice that its contract was in jeopardy, giving it an opportunity to defend itself against termination. 10News submitted a public information request for a copy of B&W's response to the NNSA on September 12, 2012, the day the filing was due.
We received that document late Thursday; the account of the security breach is similar to a previous, independent review done by the Office of the Inspector General, but the "show cause" is the most detailed report made public so far.
In the own words of B&W the trespassers reached the building that contains much of the nation's highly enriched uranium, undetected, "Although there were several individual and systemic causes that led to the Security Event, the immediate cause was an improper response by the WSI force."
At the time, WSI Oak Ridge was responsible for security at Y-12-- while B&W ran its operations.
B&W's response says three members of "Transform Now Plowshares" cut through several fences with bolt cutters. They made it past three different types of motion sensors, which all triggered alarms to a central system. Those should have immediately resulted in a WSI patrol team being dispatched to find the trespassers. That didn't happen because B&W says a supervisor were distracted by different alarms and a conversation.
Alarms kept sounding, but the damage was already done.Greg Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli had already reached the building containing Highly Enriched Uranium, splashed human blood on it, and spray painted messages of peace.
B&W says when a WSI officer arrived on scene, he failed to follow procedure, "He stood by while the intruders displayed their hands, offered bread, and spoke about the motives..."
Several security cameras also weren't working at the site, which B&W was responsible for maintaining. The document says those wouldn't have made a difference because the alarms were already going off. A second officer arrived and restrained the intruders, who were eventually arrested.
A trial is set in federal court on May 7 for those trespassers.
WSI was relieved of its duties late last year. And, the NNSA notified B&W in January, 2013 that its contract was not renewed.
Currently, two challenges have been filed against the new contractor---Consolidated Nuclear Security. Those have not yet been resolved.