Activists infiltrate nuclear facility

In late July, three American anti-nuclear-weapons activists sneaked into the high security “Y-12 Facility”, where the US’s bomb grade uranium is stored, to raise awareness about the danger posed by nuclear weapons on the eve of Hiroshima Day (Frank Munger, “Wrap-up on Y-12 events,” KnoxNews.com, 28 July 2012):

Three peace activists — including an 82-year-old nun — infiltrated the highest-security area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in a predawn protest Saturday, reportedly evading guards and cutting through three or four fences in order to spray-paint messages, hang banners and pour human blood at the site where warhead parts are manufactured and the nation’s stockpile of bomb-grade uranium is stored.

It was an unprecedented security breach at the Oak Ridge plant, which enriched the uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and continues to be a mainstay of the U.S. nuclear defense program.

The protesters, who called themselves, “Transform Now Plowshares,” were identified as Michael R. Walli, 63, Washington, D.C.; Sister Megan Rice, 82, of Nevada; and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn. They were apprehended inside the plant around 4:30 a.m. Saturday, interviewed later by members of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General, and then transported to the Blount County Correction Center, where they reportedly face conditional federal charges of vandalism and trespassing.

Supporters of the activist group said an arraignment is set for Monday.

Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Y-12, declined to discuss details of the early-morning events at the Oak Ridge, but he acknowledged that the unapproved entry into the plant’s inner sanctum — a high-security zone known simply as the Protected Area — was unprecedented.

“There’s never been a situation like this before to my knowledge,” Wyatt said Saturday afternoon.

If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant’s core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant’s security against more menacing intruders.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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