Over a year ago Congress told the Energy Department to harden the nation’s nuclear bomb factories and laboratories against terrorist raids, yet 5 of the 11 sites expect to miss their deadlines, some by many years.
According to a report obtained by the New York Times, the Energy Department has put off security improvements at some sites that store plutonium because it plans to consolidate the material at central locations. However, the GAO recently reported to the Senate that the centralizing project was also likely to lag.
One site that will miss its deadline by years is the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which holds a large stock of weapons-usable uranium. The laboratory plans to dilute the uranium, but that will take until 2015, the auditors found.
Two other sites that will miss their deadlines are operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for weapons security. The agency was established in 1999 after a number of security breaches in the weapons complex, and in January its director was forced to resign because of other security lapses.
All of this inability to secure our current sites occurs despite a resurgent move to build more nuclear power sites. While power produces different security risk, the government's inability to secure the most dangerous nuclear waste, suggest that they cannot handle more of the by-products new faciliti4es would produce. Plus, many centralized sites that have not materialized would accommodate several types of dangerous waste from all nuclear facilities.