Copper theft at Y-12

Steven Wyatt, a federal spokesman at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, today confirmed that copper was taken from the site "without authorization" about a year ago. The incident, which was referenced in an Inspector General report released today, reportedly involved about 1,400 pounds of copper stolen from a demolition site.

Wyatt said Radiological Assistance Program team was later dispatched to an off-site location (he wouldn't specify the location or county) where the material was stored and determined that it was not radioactive, contaminated or otherwise posed a danger. He would not comment on whether the National Nuclear Security Administration and B&W Y-12 are participating in the prosecution of a criminal case.

The federal spokesman said the copper was taken from a non-weapons part of the Y-12 complex, far away from the area where special nuclear materials are stored. "Y-12 has stringent controls and barriers to protect SNM, and this incident in no way indicates any loss of control over such materials," he said.

The IG report said the material was taken from a demolition project, but Wyatt would not confirm which demolition or say if it was one of the Recovery Act-funded cleanup projects at the Oak Ridge plant.

"When NNSA learned of this incident, a team was deployed to the offsite facility to perform environmental monitoring," he said. "These tests confirmed that the material was releasable to the public and its presence outside of Y-12 created no health concerns for workers or the public."

Wyatt said he couldn't comment on specifics of the case because of the involvement of law-enforcement agencies and ongoing criminal investigation. "We can say that the individual involved has had his access to the site revoked," he said.


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    Frank MungerSenior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go. Contact Frank.

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