* D'Agostino to leave National Nuclear Security
* Said wants to retire from federal service
* Decision unrelated to break-in at Y-12 site in
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Dec 21 The head of the agency
responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile said on
Friday that he will leave his post in January, six months after
three elderly peace activists broke into the government's
maximum-security facility for weapons-grade uranium.
The departure of Thomas D'Agostino, the administrator at the
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), has nothing to
do with the security breach, an NNSA official said.
D'Agostino, who worked for the government for more than 36
years and had been head of the NNSA for more than five years,
had been asked to stay in the job but declined, the official
"I am a strong believer that organizations are healthier
when leadership changes on a periodic basis," D'Agostino said in
a statement, noting he would step down on Jan. 18, just before
the second term of the Obama administration begins.
In July an 82-year-old nun and two other aging peace
activists made their way past multiple layers of security and
vandalized a building that was supposed to be one of the most
secure complexes in the United States.
Neile Miller, currently serving as the NNSA's principal
deputy administrator, will serve as the acting chief of the
NNSA, said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Energy Department
oversees the agency.
Chu lauded D'Agostino's service and said he led the agency
"through a period of unprecedently international attention and
complex transition" as it worked to reduce the number of
deployed nuclear warheads and clean up contaminated sites.
The department's review of the break-in at the Y-12 site in
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is still under way.
So far, the department's Inspector General has found that
contractors at the plant ignored a broken security camera for
months and routinely ignored motion sensors.
After the incident, the government also found that guards at
the facility were given a copy of a test and its answers before
they were to take it.
The government fired the contractor, owned by international
security firm G4S, which was the focus of political
scrutiny last summer for failing to provide enough guards for
the London Olympics.