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Stearns Finds DOE Must Exercise Better Management to Ensure Security at Critical Nuclear Facilities

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Cliff Stearns, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, today concluded a hearing on the Department of Energy's (DOE's) mission to safeguard the nation's nuclear weapons labs and production sites.

Stearns focused on a security breach that occurred on July 28, 2012, at the Y-12 Nuclear Security Complex, the nation's only source of enriched uranium nuclear weapons components. The facility is considered the "Fort Knox" for highly enriched uranium, with a DOE contractor responsible for security. The incident involved three individuals who breached security and entered the area surrounding the site's Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility and defaced the building.

Stearns questioned how the intruders got through four security fences and sensor barriers without being detected. Stearns specifically asked why the guards were not aware of this intrusion. Gregory Friedman, the DOE's Inspector General, responded,"…the response of the first responder was less than adequate…."

Concluded Stearns, "In light of this extremely serious security breach and other lapses, it is clear that the DOE must exercise greater oversight on its contractors charged with securing these critical facilities. Identifying the problem areas is vital to addressing these vulnerabilities in protecting these sites and serving the interests of taxpayers and national security."

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