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LIVERMORE LAB CAN'T DEFEND ITSELF; NUKE MATERIAL MAY GO

livermore_secy.JPGLong-time Defense Tech readers know that security at the country's nuclear labs is hovering somewhere around Disneyland level. But the defenses at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory don't even meet this Pirates of the Caribbean standard, according to the L.A. Times."Unlike the security forces at other weapons sites, Livermore's personnel do not have certain high-powered weapons, door-breaching explosives or helicopters to defend the site," the paper reports. The area where the lab keeps its nuclear material is about a quarter mile from a residential tract, and it "is packed into the dense Livermore complex, making it tougher to defend than remote facilities."

"We have concluded, working with insiders, that Livermore cannot adequately protect its materials," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C., group that has been pressing the Energy Department to improve its security. "The only way to address the problem is to get those materials out of there."The group has asked Energy officials to eliminate the materials from Livermore and two sites in Idaho and to move plutonium to underground sites in Tennessee and South Carolina.Brian said she met with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on Jan. 22 to recommend that the department move the Livermore materials to the Nevada Test Site's defense assembly facility, an underground lab located in a remote desert. "He seemed genuinely concerned and committed to fixing the problem," she said.Energy spokesman Bryan Wilkes acknowledged Monday that the department was looking at consolidating or removing nuclear materials at a number of sites. Earlier this year, it decided to remove the materials from TA-18, a weapons site at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
THERE'S MORE: "Two Chinese diplomats, away from their Los Angeles consulate improperly, recently sped their vehicle past a Los Alamos National Laboratory guard post near classified facilities in what U.S. officials think was an intelligence mission," according to the Washington Times.It's where the diplomats were stopped at the lab that's particularly unnerving. Pajarito Road looks down onto canyons where TA-18 and TA-55 -- two of Los Alamos' most sensitive nuclear facilities -- are located. Watchdog groups have long warned that Pajarito would be the ideal place to launch an attack on the lab. And it has been frequently closed to the public since 9/11.AND MORE: A House Committee on Government Reform's subcommittee is holding hearings today on whether the Energy Department can meet the security requirements at its labs. Hint: no.
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