November 7, 1997

Bill Wicker, 202/586-5827

Peña Takes Action to Boost Security at DOE Defense Nuclear Facilities

Secretary of Energy Federico Peña today announced several actions to strengthen the safeguards and security at the Department's defense nuclear facilities. The measures include deployment of new technologies, involvement of Navy SEALs in training for "force-on-force" exercises and additional involvement and advice from outside experts.

"The Cold War is over, but the potential threat to our nation's security is not. At Energy Department sites, where we are dismantling and cleaning up after 50 years of building nuclear weapons, we face new security challenges that demand new security solutions," Peña said.

In announcing the actions, Peña released two reports that he had ordered earlier this year on safeguards and security -- one by the independent Office of Oversight and one by the Director of the Office of Security Affairs. Both reports indicate that there is no immediate danger to nuclear material at any DOE site but highlight the need for significant improvements.

"Several months ago when security concerns were first brought to my attention, I ordered these reports. Today, I am publicly releasing them because I think we have a responsibility to the American people to address these challenges as openly and directly as possible. More importantly, we are taking actions to further secure our facilities. The reports highlight problems, but they also show that our site managers have been instrumental in helping to identify the problems and have been working to address them," Peña added.

Peña announced several actions that have been initiated to enhance security and respond to the recommendations in the reports, including:

- DOE -


[Editors note: A two-page fact sheet with more details about the reports and announcements follows.]


Site-by-Site Report by the Independent Office of Oversight
The site profiles were completed over six months by teams of security specialists from the Department's Office of Oversight, which is independent of the various organizations responsible for managing safeguards and security policy. Actual security performance was closely observed at each facility, including the conduct of "performance tests" -- including actual attempts to penetrate alarmed barriers and simulated terrorist attacks that used laser devices that simulated automatic weapons. The outcome of each performance test was evaluated along with conclusions from computer models and the analyses of technical experts.

The report, which summarizes more than 2,000 classified pages, identified the need to continue to improve protection at four sites -- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (evaluated in May 1997), Rocky Flats (evaluated in April 1997), Pantex Plant (evaluated in August 1997) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (evaluated in May 1997). According to the report, these sites do not have "vulnerabilities that would have allowed an adversary to penetrate the facility, but rather that one or more of the layered elements of the protection system surrounding a very important asset had an exploitable weakness." At the remaining sites, the combination of multiple layers of protection -- including security clearances, access controls, sophisticated alarm systems and highly trained and armed protective forces -- provide an adequate safety margin. The oversight review concludes that there is no immediate security danger at any DOE site.

This is the first time an unclassified report on safeguards and security at all major DOE facilities has been prepared and released to the public.

Office of Security Affairs Report to the Secretary On the Status of Safeguards and Security
Last May, Secretary Peña appointed Joseph Mahaley as director of the Office of Security Affairs, and instructed him to review security at DOE sites as well as issues affecting the department's security management structure. His 56-page report highlights issues, initiatives and achievements which characterize the current protection posture and status of safeguards and security programs at DOE's 12 major defense nuclear facilities. The report found that the current level of security being provided across the board is satisfactory at most locations. "Three facilities are not fully satisfactory at this time, although, with very few exceptions, these marginal facilities are currently implementing compensatory measures or developing and implementing corrective actions to upgrade their status," the report notes in its executive summary.

The Office of Security Affairs Report also highlights the need to improve DOE's management of security affairs. Several reports have made the same recommendations. Secretary Peña is establishing a new Security Management Council to make recommendations and follow up on management reforms. The council will be led by Deputy Secretary Moler.

New Board to Advise on Safeguards and Security
The Security Oversight Board, which was first proposed by Senator John Warner and is pending in the National Defense Authorization Act of 1998, will counsel the Secretary on policy, operational concerns, strategic planning, personnel, budget, procurement and development of priorities relating to the DOE safeguards and security program.

The board will consist of experts from both inside and outside the department. Members will include the Secretary of Energy (chair); Director of the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security; Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management; Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs; Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health; Associate Deputy Secretary for Field Management; and five additional members appointed by the Secretary of Energy who are not employees of DOE or its contractors and selected as follows: three by the Secretary of Defense, one by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and one by the director of Central Intelligence.

Board members will evaluate the Department's procedures for protecting nuclear weapons and weapons-capable material at facilities which were involved in building nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The board will disband on Oct. 31, 2000.

Navy SEALs, FBI to Help Train Protective Forces
The Department of Energy will start using U.S. Navy SEALs for training and planning tactics for the "force-on-force" exercises that DOE uses to test security and train security police officers. The specialized SEAL units have the advanced tactical skills and the technology that is available to potential adversaries and they are trained to accomplish highly focused military objectives. The Department will also enhance cooperation and training between the FBI and DOE field sites for threat contingency planning and emergency response.

More Protective Forces, New Technologies, Background Checks
To further ensure the security of DOE nuclear laboratories, facilities and sites, additional security officers would be hired at least four locations -- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (California), Hanford (Washington), Nevada Test Site (Nevada) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico). Upgrades to security systems at facilities throughout the DOE complex, including Pantex Plant (Texas), Idaho National Engineering & Environmental Laboratory (Idaho), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Hanford, Oak Ridge Reservation (Tennessee), Savannah River Site (South Carolina), Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (Colorado) and Los Alamos are either planned or already under way.

Examples of recent and continuing enhancements include construction of new guard stations, guard towers and vehicle barriers; improved security fencing and lighting systems; new gamma ray, x-ray and metal detectors; improved security alarm and aircraft detection systems; closed circuit TV systems; improved computer protection systems; and installation of upgraded encryption and technical countermeasurement instruments.

The Department is taking steps to strengthen the process for checking backgrounds of foreign visitors to DOE's nuclear facilities, including allocating an additional $5 million to enhance counterintelligence resources and the security activities that support them. The aim is to clarify sensitive subject areas that require protection and apply that knowledge to actual visits to DOE facilities by foreign nationals.

The Department will also evaluate several new technologies to enhance protection of DOE sites, nuclear materials and classified information, including a heartbeat detector that can find humans in confined spaces; a device that automatically screens vehicles and pedestrians entering/leaving DOE facilities; a high-speed network intrusion detection system for identifying suspicious activities on a computer network; and non-lead/non-toxic ammunition, which provides safer, healthier firearms training for DOE protective forces.