Alarming Nuclear Security Blunder Demonstrates Need for Change
October 10, 2014
By Katie McCarthy
The Inspector General of the Department of Energy reported on September 24th that the Office of Secure Transportation (OST) failed to correctly report an incident involving unauthorized access to nuclear weapons.
The OST is managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and is responsible for safely and securely transporting special nuclear material owned by the U.S. Government. “Special nuclear material” can include nuclear weapons, nuclear weapon components and fissile material. The OST implements the Human Reliability Program (HRP), which ensures that only authorized individuals with the “highest standards of reliability as well as physical and mental suitability” have access to special nuclear material. The vetting process includes a Q-level clearance, drug testing, and more. While the HRP was created with the aims of streamlining management and clarifying responsibilities, problems most assuredly remain.
As this IG report suggests, there continues to be management and clarity issues within the NNSA-run office, of which this incident is a clear example considering the main cause was a lack of understanding of the duties, responsibilities and reporting requirements of personnel.
Read the full article here.