Issue Date: May 17, 2004
DOE TOUGHENS SECURITY PLAN
A wide range of security enhancements for the nation’s nuclear weapons labs were announced on May 7 by Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.
If enacted, Abraham’s initiatives would toughen security at DOE’s weapons plants and its laboratories that house nuclear materials. But nearly all of the initiatives require study before implementation.
Abraham said reported incidents of guards sleeping on duty and employees repeatedly losing keys, as well as other indicators of poor performance at DOE facilities, although rare, were unacceptable and will not be tolerated. He proposed the initiatives as well as a new culture where lab staff can air their concerns about security to managers without fear of retribution, rather than seek out the news media or the inspector general’s office.
Among the most sensitive proposals Abraham is considering is shifting and consolidating weapons-grade nuclear material to fewer locations within the DOE complex. This could include relocating defense-related materials and work from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to other weapons labs.
DOE also is investigating the possibility of federalizing its security forces and creating a single, highly specialized elite federal force within the department, rather than relying mostly on contract security forces, as is the case today.
Also, Abraham proposed that, within five years, all lab computer workstations would be disk-free, reducing the possibility of stealing classified material. And staff members would use scanning systems instead of mechanical keys to enter secure facilities in the future, Abraham said.
Better training, more frequent security tests at high-security facilities, and better recruiting of qualified security personnel were also promised by Abraham. The announcement was greeted with support even by vocal critics, who urged quick adoption of the proposals.
SHIFT? DOE may remove nuclear weapons work from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.<br > DOE PHOTO
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