Saturday, September 03, 2005

Security at labs criticized in report


By Betsy Mason

Knight Ridder

An independent report is highly critical of security throughout the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.

The report, commissioned by the Department of Energy, recommends consolidating weapons-grade nuclear materials. Though Livermore is not specifically mentioned, such a move would involve removing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from the lab.

``Nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials should be consolidated at fewer, better protected sites and where practical, in underground storage sites,'' wrote retired Admiral Richard Mies who conducted the security review.

The report, released Thursday, identifies the isolated Nevada Test Site and an underground storage site at the Idaho National Laboratory as logical choices for storing nuclear materials.

Consolidation is not a new idea. The National Nuclear Security Administration, the semi-autonomous branch of the Department of Energy that oversees the nuclear weapons complex, discussed the idea of moving the plutonium from Superblock, Livermore's plutonium facility, to Los Alamos National Laboratory. And last year, then Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham mentioned consolidation of nuclear materials in a speech at the Savannah Rivers Site in South Carolina.

For more on this story see:

From this article:

The Mies report also criticized the Energy Department for lacking a comprehensive strategic security plan for the weapons complex and for a "low regard for security -- set in a deeply rooted culture of ingrained behavior, attitudes and values."

"Admiral Mies correctly identified a number of institutional concerns that we have also recognized and have worked to change during the last three years," Brooks said.

-Well, that's comforting...
Mies has myopic vision as well. I remember visiting STRATCOM at Omaha when Mies was the CINC. I just told the guard at the front gate that I was there to attend the XXX meeting and was waived through. I was not required to show an ID until I was inside the main building wher Mies' office was. I find that military officers take a different view of site security when they look at sites such as LANL. (Remember the retired General that was Bill Richardson's "security czar"). Not sure why....
The sooner all the plutonium in the world is buried 10,00 feet under the seabed, the better.
One wonders how Anonymous 9/3 11:53:35 PM intends to get the plutonium currently in, e.g., North Korea or Iran in order to bury it 10,000 feet beneath the seabed.

Oh, of course, it will only require a simple request from CCNS or POGO, or perhaps the leading lights of Santa Fe, and it will be handed over immediately. Shame on me for even thinking it might be otherwise!
Anonymous : 9/03/2005 11:53:35 PM is a fool. Doesn't anybody remember Neville Chambelain from WW2? Appeasement and unitlateral disarmament do not work. The bad guys are just that: BAD GUYS, and must be treated accordingly.
Well, we've seen just how much intellience former Admirals possess, and it seems uniformly low. All they really seem to know how to do is to author plainly CYA reports, either for themselves or one of their buddies. Or, when actually put in charge of something (such as, for instance, LANL), their immense incompetence really shows through.
From working at LANL, mostly on DOD Projects, it is my experience that, of the three major services (USAF, Army, & Navy) the Admirals are inddeed the worst. They seem to be universally arrogant, abusive, stupid, etc.

In agreement with the previous comment, they do seem to be obsessed with CYA and scapegoating meanwhile operating a very strong old-boy network and covering up incidents such as Tailhook. Only the DOE would be stupid enough to continue to seek their advice.
Some of the retired army generals are pieces of work as well. Back in 1984 the Zia Company (remember it?) had just recently a retired 1-star general named Pete Berger to run the place. Berger came in to the Zia company knowing absolutely nothing about running a services operation. He promptly hired a 2-star (retired) army general to work for him named Harry Dukes. Between the two of them it only took 18 months to run the company completely into the ground. Zia lost the contract that it had held for 42 years when the lab put that contract up for bid.

Does anybody see a pattern here?
The 07:28 post ends with "does anyone see a pattern here?". I suggest that the "pattern" for these postings seems to be ignoring the content of the report and blaming the DOE for everything.
LANL is not an innocent party. Look back to the CREM incident, when S-Division's concern, per Todd and John, was to protect LANL management. Period... Same with Walp/Doran. When security is about protecting management, not classified information, that's the problem.
The report fixes part of blame on the autonomy of the sites; "Negotiation begin when the order is issued". The DOE can't tell S-Division what to do; they can negotiate with them, and put performance goals in the contract. This is a slow and painful process; then an incident happens and all the DOE orders are applied before restart.
It is my belief that the creation of the NNSA was a huge mistake, pushed by Senator Domenici. The report points out many of the current problems with the NNSA scheme.
I encourage those reading this to address the report, which has some very good points, rather than attacking those who wrote the report. Reading the report would be a good start...
Anonymous : 9/04/2005 10:20:18 AM does not get it:

1. There was no lost CREM.

2. Walp and Doran were nothing more than LIARS who were only given credibility because the spineless UC leadership tumbled to their lawsuit and paid them off!
I have read the report. It is not factual, and like the defense bases threat, it is from the furtile imaginations of bureaucrats. The report does not look at the facts for how SNM is protected vs the incredible suggested scenarios for attach. This report, which is three years old, lead to DBT -- and to have POGO suggest that someone is "hiding something" is ridiculous.
9/04/2005 02:10,

Slow down dude, before you pop a vein or something. Your emotional attachment to this issue is clear, as evidenced by the fire-now-think-later nature of your post: bases rather than basis, attach rather than attack, dropped articles, etc...

Things are only incredible until they happen.
Anonymous : 9/04/2005 10:31:52 AM does not get it! The fact that many months went by before it could be determined whether or not any crem was lost is VERY disturbing. Surely, with all the doctorate degrees and high IQs up there, someone could come up with something better. Of course, PhD + IQ does not necessarily add up to common sense.
Anonymous at 9/06/2005 05:48:07 AM has it wrong. Apparently they new within a day or two that there was no lost CREM. It just took them a while to come up with a story.
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