By DUNCAN MANSFIELD
The Associated Press
June 20, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Sixteen foreign-born construction workers with
phony immigration documents were able to enter a nuclear weapons plant
in eastern Tennessee because of lax security controls, a federal
report said Monday.
Controls at the Y-12 weapons plant have since been tightened and there
was no evidence the workers had access to any sensitive documents,
said the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees
nuclear weapons facilities for the Department of Energy.
However, the DOE inspector general's office said in the report issued
Monday that its field agents found "official use only" documents
"lying unprotected in a construction trailer which was accessed by the
foreign construction workers" at the plant.
"Thus, these individuals were afforded opportunities to access ...
(this) information," the inspector general wrote. "We concluded that
this situation represented a potentially serious access control and
The report, initiated by a tip in 2004, said the workers had fake
green cards that certified them to work in the United States. Their
cases were turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
agency for deportation.
The Y-12 plant, created for the top-secret Manhattan Project that
developed nuclear bombs in World War II, makes parts for nuclear
warheads and is the country's principal storehouse for weapons-grade
uranium. The plant in Oak Ridge, about 25 miles west of Knoxville, has
been criticized for losing keys to sensitive areas and purported
cheating on security drills, weaknesses that officials say have been
In response to the foreign workers intrusion at the plant, visitors
now must provide passports or birth certificates along with other
National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Steve Wyatt said
that agency and managers for Y-12 contractor BWXT became concerned
earlier this year about the potential for uncleared workers entering a
construction site within the Y-12 complex, mostly involving steel and
He said the case was turned over the IG after investigators confirmed
that some undocumented workers had access to the area.
The inspector general said it was particularly concerned about
allowing subcontractors to self-certify the citizenship of their
employees, and that the Office of Counterintelligence didn't know
foreign constructions workers were at the Y-12 site until it was
notified by the inspector general's office.
On the Net:
DOE Inspector General: http://www.ig.doe.gov
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