The National Nuclear Security Administration has restricted access to New Hope Center — the most publicly available part of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant — because of what a spokesman characterized of the “overall threat” of terrorism that currently exists at government facilities.
The center houses the plant’s visitor center and a history museum, as well as an auditorium that’s used for a number of public events. New Hope Center also includes offices and labs and is home base for a number of Y-12 employees.
Steven Wyatt, a federal spokesman at Y-12, confirmed that the doors are now locked during business hours, requiring an employee badge in order to enter or approval for a previously scheduled event — such as a Friday event to be hosted by Cold War Patriots or a Y-12 tour planned for June 12 as part of the Secret City Festival.
Wyatt did not specify how long the security clampdown would remain in place.
“We are currently limiting access of the New Hope Center as part of the steps we’ve taken in recent days to heighten overall site security awareness,” Wyatt said. “This is not a response to any specific threat, but because of the overall threat of potential terrorism that currently exists against all U.S. government facilities and assets.”
Additional security measures were put in place late last week at U.S. military bases and other installation, according to news reports.
The new security restrictions at Y-12’s New Hope Center apparently will have an impact on the Department of Energy’s public bus tours. One of the stops on the tours has been at New Hope Center, which includes a collection of relics of the plant’s missions — dating back to the World War II Manhattan Project — and exhibits that tell the story of Y-12. The Oak Ridge plant produced the enriched uranium used in the “Little Boy” atomic bomp dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Wyatt said there has been increase in “security awareness and vigilance” at Y-12, but he said the plant has not yet raised the official level of security.
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