Ohio lawmaker wants military to provide security at nuclear weapons sites, including SRS

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 1:31 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 1:21 AM
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Security for Savannah River Site's tritium program could be turned over to the U.S. military under legislation proposed this week as a result of a July 28 security breach at another federal nuclear weapons site – the Y-12 complex in Tennessee.

The proposal from U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and six co-sponsors would make the Pentagon responsible for protecting facilities that make, maintain or transport warheads, highly enriched uranium and other nuclear bomb components – a task currently handled by the National Nuclear Security Administration and private security contractors.

Security programs at all nuclear weapons sites came under heightened scrutiny after the July incident in which three protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, managed to get past highly trained and equipped guards to vandalize a high-security uranium facility at NNSA's Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The protesters used bolt cutters to open fences and made their way to the plant’s most secure area, where warheads are serviced and where the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored, according to The Associated Press. They were eventually arrested.

Although no security issues have arisen at Savannah River Site, which houses the NNSA's tritium program, Turner's House Resolution 6555 could assign military protection to all eight nuclear weapons facilities in the U.S.

Savannah River Site plays a small but critical role in the nation's defense program.

All nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal have one thing in common: the reservoir of tritium – the hydrogen gas that increases its explosive power, is maintained and recharged at SRS, which is the nation's sole source of the material.

Tritium, with a half-life of 121/2 years, must periodically be replenished, or "recharged," at the site's secure facility.

Typically, the Department of Defense removes expiring reservoirs from warheads and ships them to SRS, where they are recharged and returned. Surplus tritium from dismantled reservoirs remains at SRS as inventory.

SRS, Y-12 and several other nuclear weapons sites use the same security contractor, WSI – formerly Wackenhut Services Inc. – whose parent company is now called G4S Government Solutions.

Turner is the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces. His bill has six co-sponsors.

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my.voice 09/25/12 - 02:52 pm
Why not? They are sure better

Why not? They are sure better equipped and know what they are doing. Rent a cop not so much!

TruthJusticeFaithHope 09/25/12 - 02:57 pm
WOW... my gut feeling is that is probably a good idea....

WOW... my gut feeling is that is probably a good idea.... Yet, I don't think a nun with a bolt cutter would be able to make it through the perimeter of the Savannah River Site.

OJP 09/25/12 - 03:40 pm
Free market

The private sector can do everything better, right?

seenitB4 09/25/12 - 04:00 pm
dwb...I agree

Having quite a bit of inter-action with Wackenhut, it is my observation they are anything but "rent-a cops".

I know some in security & know your statement is true.

Patriot 09/26/12 - 08:15 am

WSI maintains an extremely well trained, capable force. These men and women take their responsibilities very seriously and are willing to lay down their lives to protect SRS.

bubbasauce 09/26/12 - 10:31 am
Patriot said it all. Very

Patriot said it all. Very well trained!

TechPatriot 10/02/12 - 01:37 pm
Tell Your Congressman NO to H.R. 6555

WSI-SRS has a very capable security force made up of military veterans and tactical security professionals. These are not rent-a-cops like the officers posted at the banks, rather these guys are Security Police Officers with federal arrest authority, top secret clearances, evaluated through a rigorous training programs of safety and security, and possess tactical skill proficiency in firearms and physical security that most current military men and women could not achieve. The CSRA is safe and SRS is protected by a serious professional protective force that boasts a Special Response Team of mostly handpicked military veterans and special forces operatives. Replacing private security contractor professionals at DOE sites with DOD military personnel is a horrible idea. I have seen both sides of the house as a former military veteran and DOE security contractor and can tell you that this is very very bad move. Do you think there are going to be staff, officers, and generals physically guarding nuclear material at DOE sites? No, it will be kids just out of highschool, the young enlisted ranks, probably enlisted MPs. Many military personnel serve 4 years on contract and get out. So are we seriously considering not only replacing professional security contractors made up of hand picked military veterans that have made a career out of guarding nuclear material with a just-out-of-high-school military police force that turn over personnel every 4 years. Ensure the surety of our nuclear material and weapons of this country by saying NO to H.R. 6555

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