January 8, 2013 / 7:10 PM / 5 years ago

US uranium complex changes management after activists break in

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has named a new group to manage security at a site where it processes and stores enriched uranium after anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year old nun, broke into the site in 2012.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said on Tuesday it has chosen Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC to manage and operate the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the breach occurred last July, as well as the Plantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

The group selected is comprised of Bechtel National Inc, Lockheed Martin Services Inc, ATK Launch Systems Inc and SOC LLC. Consolidated will begin a transition immediately and the contract will start on May 1, the NNSA said.

The five-year contract, with options to renew it for another five years, also includes construction project management of the uranium processing facility of the Y-12 complex and an option for work at the Savannah River tritium operations in South Carolina.

The contract includes a total available fee of about $446 million if the Savannah River option is picked up by the end of the first year, the NNSA said.

The agency, part of the Department of Energy, said the move will save taxpayers more than $3.2 billion over the next decade.

In an incident that embarrassed the NNSA, three anti-nuclear activists, including the nun, cut through three perimeter fences at Y-12, painted slogans and threw what they said was human blood on an outer wall of a building that stored highly enriched uranium, a key component of nuclear bombs.

An investigation by the Energy Department’s inspector general found that a security camera on site had been broken for about six months and was part of a backlog of repairs needed for adequate security at the facility.

B&W Y-12, a unit of Babcock & Wilcox Co, had managed security at the Tennessee site. After the breach that company terminated a contract with WSI Oak Ridge. WSI is owned by security company G4S Plc, which was at the center of a dispute over security at last year’s London Olympic Games.

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