6. Some of Our Plutonium is Missing
Inefficiencies of nuclear safeguarding techniques and ambiguities concerning
the accountability of nuclear materials poses a real threat to the safety
of the American public ... and one of which they are little aware. Citing
findings from a General Accounting Office report, the author/researcher,
Barbara Newman, pointed out in the Nation several cases of inadequate
safeguarding at nuclear plants -- including the use of employee honor
systems in lieu of posted guards, the lack of effective security screening
for new employees, and the strategic "outmanning" of perimeter
sentry guards. Also noted is the lack of a credible inventory system
to accurately tabulate amounts of uranium and plutonium.being processed.
So lax is the current method that the government cannot account for
150,000 pounds of nuclear materials; 11,000 pounds of which is weapon-grade
quality. For comparison, 4.4 pounds of plutonium is sufficient to make
a bomb large enough to level a city of 100,000 people. Furthermore,
any quantity of plutonium is a carcinogen and a lethal poison. In short,
poor government management has allowed the security situation to degenerate
to the point that nuclear supplies can be pilfered by employees, plants
can be seized by terrorists, and private organizations involved with
atomic energy go virtually unregulated. Corroborating Barbara Newman's
1976 warning is Jack Anderson's recent revelation of a secret inch-thick
congressional study titled "Nuclear Proliferation and Safeguards."
Prepared by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, it warns
that mankind itself is threatened by an appalling lack of nuclear safeguards.
The sparse coverage given our "missing plutonium" in 1976
qualifies this story for nomination as one of the "best censored"
SOURCE: "Some of Our Plutonium is Missing" by Barbara P.
Newman. Nation, Oct. 23, 1976.
"Report warns nuclear theft danger real" by Jack Anderson
and Les Whitten, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, March 27, 1977.