Category Archives: security

Saddleworn reporter heading out of Dodge

As I finished up a recent Chinese dinner of chicken with black bean sauce, I cracked open my fortune cookie and glanced at the message inside.

“All things have an end,” it said, fittingly enough as I get ready for retirement at the end of the month.munger1

For the past 35 years, maybe a little more, I’ve covered the Department of Energy and its Oak Ridge operations. It’s a news beat I created at the News Sentinel after serving as state editor and realizing the wealth of news potential at the government facilities.

It’s been a pleasantly bumpy ride these many years, with a lot of highlights and some unusual happenings. I’m kind of proud of some of the things accomplished. Continue reading

Orlando shooter had no Y-12 connect

As noted previously, the Orlando nightclub shooter had worked for security contractor G4S since 2007, and the contractor, previously known as Wackenhut, provided security services at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant for more than a decade — from 2000 to 2012. But a federal spokesman at Y-12 confirmed that Omar Mateen had never worked at Y-12 or had any association with the Oak Ridge plant. Continue reading

Orlando shooter worked for G4S

The Orlando nightclub shooter worked for G4S, one of the world’s largest security companies, according to multiple news reports. WPBF, a TV station in Palm Beach County, Fla., where the company is based, quoted a statement issued by G4S that said Omar Mateen had worked for the company since Sept. 10, 2007. “We are cooperating fully with all law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, as they conduct their investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the friends, families and people affected by this unspeakable tragedy,” the statement said in part.

G4S, formerly known as Wackenhut, was a major security provider at the government facilities in Oak Ridge until it lost its contracts in the wake of the 2012 break-in by protesters at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Mateen reportedly lived in Fort Pierce, Fla., and there is no indication he was ever involved in any Oak Ridge-related activities. Continue reading

ORNL’s supercomputing center fends off about a million attacks a day

bigbang2You may remember a 2011 episode of the CBS sitcom “Big Bang Theory” where theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper hacks into a Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for — of all reasons — help in figuring out a card trick. Well that didn’t really happen, of course, but the Oak Ridge lab really does get a lot of attacks on its stable of supercomputers — including Titan, a Cray XK7 system that currently rules the roost of science machines.

According to Buddy Bland, director of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, the number of attacks is about a million a day. Continue reading

On body armor

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, did not respond to questions about the contractor’s plans to pursue new body armor for its security guards and why replacement apparel is needed. CNS recently issued a request for “expressions of interest” from companies capable of providing the protective wear. Continue reading

Y-12 contractor puts out feeler for new body armor

IMG_4994The government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, which houses the nation’s primary stockpile of bomb-grade uranium, is shopping around for new body armor for its security guards.

Consolidated Nuclear Security issued a notice seeking “expressions of interest” from companies capable of providing the protective apparel, although the Y-12 contractor said the notice does not constitute an invitation for sealed bids or a request for proposals. Continue reading

Y-12/Pantex contractor grapples with funding ‘imbalance’

y12signMidway through the fiscal year, Consolidated Nuclear Security — the manager of two nuclear weapons plants, including Y-12 in Oak Ridge — is reportedly well within its budget and meeting its production goals.

However, the federal contractor’s spending accounts are out of balance, with weapons work, security and other “direct-funded” activities well below anticipated cost levels while indirect or overhead costs — such as procurement activities, human resources, finance, and environment, safety and health — are at or exceeding projections.

As a result, CNS is having to make a bunch of changes to straighten things out, including cutbacks on travel and other activities that are charged to indirect accounts and shifting work to direct accounts where possible. Continue reading

ORNL, 9/11 and Bethel Valley Road

East portal to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Tuesday, Sep. 30, 2014. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Entrance to Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Bethel Valley Road. (KNS photo/Michael Patrick)

On the heels of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory closed its entrances, setting up security portals on Bethel Valley Road to the east and west of the lab. No longer could vehicles proceed toward or travel through the Department of Energy lab without a security pass.

This security measure was an unhappy development for folks who were used to using Bethel Valley Road as a shortcut between Interstate 40 and various paths to Knoxville or Oak Ridge, and it was disappointing to anyone accustomed to having ready access to ORNL — at least for a “windshield tour” — to show visitors one of the nation’s great science labs. Continue reading