* Aging activists broke into weapons grade uranium Y-12
* Babcock & Wilcox company to take over full security of
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, Sept 29 The U.S. government's "Fort
Knox" of weapons-grade uranium storage has ended a contract with
a unit of an international security firm two months after an
82-year-old nun and other nuclear activists broke into the site.
The managing contractor at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site,
B&W Y-12, a unit of Babcock & Wilcox Co, said late on
Friday it will terminate the contract with WSI Oak Ridge on Oct.
1. WSI is owned by security firm G4S, which was at the
center of a dispute over security at this year's London Olympic
The move came after the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA), an Energy Department agency, sent a
letter on Friday to B&W Y-12 President Charles Spencer saying it
had "grave concerns" about his company and WSI providing
security at Y-12, the nation's only site for storing and
processing weapons-grade uranium.
The letter recommended that B&W terminate the subcontract
with WSI and work with it to take over security operations after
the July 28 break-in.
The nun, Megan Rice, and two others cut perimeter fences to
reach the outer wall of a building where enriched uranium was
stored. The site was shut temporarily after the breach.
An investigation by the Energy Department's inspector
general last month found a security camera had been broken for
about six months and was part of a backlog of repairs needed for
security at the facility.
The NNSA repeated on Saturday that Energy Secretary Steven
Chu has said the incident was an important "wake-up call" for
the entire nuclear complex.
"The security of our nation's nuclear material is the
Department's most important responsibility, and we have no
tolerance for federal or contractor personnel who cannot or will
not do their jobs," said NNSA spokesman Joshua McConaha.
After the incident the NNSA's top security official and two
other federal officials were reassigned. In addition, top
officials at WSI were removed and officers associated with the
break-in were fired, demoted, or suspended without pay.
WSI's parent company, G4S, found itself the focus of a
political and media storm this summer in Britain over
outsourcing of security after it failed to provide enough guards
for the Olympics.
WSI did not immediately answer a request for comment about
the ending of the contract.
It seems few other jobs will be lost over the incident that
brought new questions about the government's outsourcing of
sensitive security operations.
B&W said in a statement it will offer employment to all Y-12
security police officers and active union workers with WSI Oak
The NNSA and Department of Energy are engaged in reviews of
security operations from the contractor, to the federal
management, to the security model, McConaha said.
The final review will begin after Chu asks outside observers
to analyze current protection of nuclear materials and explore
more options for protecting the sites.
Chu received a classified review of the Y-12 incident
earlier in the week by the department's health, safety, and