The security contractor at a Tennessee plant that stores the nation’s supply of weapons-grade uranium has replaced its general manager almost two weeks after three protesters, including an 82-year-old nun, got into a high-security area.
Security firm WSI Oak Ridge confirmed to the Knoxville News Sentinel Wednesday that Steven C. Hafner is taking over the position from Lee Brooks.
Protesters on July 28 were found hanging banners in the dark, singing and offering to break bread with the security guards at Y-12 Oak Ridge National Security Complex in Knoxville. An affidavit said that before security guards apprehended them, they spray-painted the building with protest slogans and threw blood on it. They were arrested and officials say all nuclear materials are safe.
Afterward, security contractor WSI said it was looking at its procedures and it removed Brooks and Y-12 Protective Force director Gary Brandon from their posts. WSI named John Garrity to replace Brandon. Brooks and Brandon are awaiting reassignments by G4S Government Solutions, the parent company of WSI.
The newspaper reported that the halt to nuclear operations at the plant was still in effect. The plant originally said the stand-down was expected to be lifted by this week and that security personnel would undergo training and refresher instruction.
A spokeswoman for Y-12 did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment.
The Y-12 plant also makes nuclear warhead parts and provides nuclear fuel for the Navy and research reactors worldwide. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office is responsible for oversight of the security contractors. Last month, WSI-Oak Ridge said it planned to cut as many as 51 jobs, including about 34 security police officer positions at the complex.
The plant produced the material used in the first nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945. At annual protests tied to the anniversary, a few protesters have staged deliberate acts of civil disobedience to provoke their arrests including blocking the road into the plant or defying trespassing signs by deliberately crossing a blue line that marks the beginning of federal property.
The security firm formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a fine of $7.5 million to avoid US prosecution for smuggling arms, the Justice Department said in a statement Tuesday.
The company, now known as Academi, will pay the fine in addition to a previously agreed $42 million settlement with the State Department over violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the Justice Department said.
Under the agreement, the company previously known as Blackwater Worldwide and as Xe Services “admits certain facts” following a five-year, multi-agency federal investigation, said Thomas Walker, a prosecutor in North Carolina.
The probe “covered an array of criminal allegations,” some “involving the manufacture and shipment of short-barreled rifles, fully automatic weapons, armored helicopters, armored personnel carriers,” said the statement.
The company had also faced allegations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act regarding its conduct in Iraq and Sudan in relation to unlicensed training of foreign nationals and firearms violations.