Wednesday, June 3, 2009

U.S. Government Accidentally Posts List of Nuclear Sites

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) says a list of American nuclear facilities accidentally posted on the internet will not compromise national security. The document catalogues government and civilian nuclear facilities and their functions throughout the U.S.

The 266-page document, sent from President Obama to Congress, was posted on the Government Printing Office (GPO) website on May 6. However, the list's publication was first reported Monday in an online newsletter. The report has been removed from the GPO site.

Some of the pages are marked "highly confidential safeguard sensitive." According to Damien LaVera, spokesperson for the NNSA, the list is not a threat to national security and was required by the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of an agreement on nuclear material inspection.

"While we would have preferred it not be released, the Departments of Energy, Defense, and Commerce and the NRC allthoroughly reviewed it to ensure that no information of direct national security significance would be compromised," said LaVera.

Steven Aftergood, Director of the Federation of American Government's Project on Government Secrecy, agreed, stating that the document's publication posed "zero" national security implications.

"I regret that some people are painting it as a roadmap for terrorists because that's not what it is," said Aftergood. "This is not a disclosure of sensitive nuclear technologies or of facility security procedures. It is simply a listing of the numerous nuclear research sites and the programs that are underway. And so it poses no security threat whatsoever."

An anonymous Department of Energy official, who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly, confirmed that none of the sites on the list are a direct part of the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure. The official also acknowledged that the report does include details on a highly enriched uranium storage facility in Tennessee.

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