Friday, January 15, 2010

Breaking News: Pantex Nuke Plant Lockdown


Pantex alert due to "hunters with weapons" sighted by employee near plant.

CNN STORY: (CNN) -- A nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant in Texas was on lockdown Friday morning because of a "potential security situation," according to a news release.

The Pantex Plant in Carson County, Texas, "has activated its Emergency Response Organization to respond to a potential security situation," the release said.
The event, which was not described, occurred around 8 a.m. the release said.
"The plant is in a lockdown status and the situation is being evaluated in order to facilitate security actions. Pantex employees are sheltered in place," it said.
Further details were not immediately available.
The Pantex plant is the nation's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility, the release said. The facility is managed and operated by B&W Pantex for the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration, according to the plant's Web site.
It is about 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas.


Texas nuclear assembly plant in lockdown: official

Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:10pm EST
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A nuclear weapons assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas, ordered a precautionary security lock-down on Friday but there was no safety breach, a state official said.
"They did have it locked down," said an official at the Texas Department of Public Safety, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There was no security breach. It was purely a precautionary measure."
According to the Texas official, the plant was locked down because there were armed hunters on property adjacent to it. "They had some duck hunters out there," the official said. Plant officials later determined the hunters were not a threat, the official said.
The Pantex Plant maintains the safety, security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and is managed and operated by Babcock and Wilcox for the U.S. Department of Energy.
"Pantex is responding to a concern reported by Pantex employees," Steve Erhart, Pantex Site Office Manager, said in a statement. "Pantex Plant security is in control of the situation. Plant management is monitoring the ongoing response."
(Reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Vicki Allen)

War warning: Terror attack imminent?

Washington (CNN) -- Information gained since the attempted airplane bombing on Christmas Day has U.S. officials concerned that al Qaeda in Yemen has "trained and equipped ... viable operatives" to strike U.S. targets -- including targets unrelated to aviation, a reliable source familiar with the investigation told CNN Thursday.
"I have not seen people this ramped up on the terror front like this for probably two years," the source said. "The palpable level of angst is incredible."
Federal officials said there was no imminent threat, but the source said the investigation into the electronic communications associated with Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged in the botched attempt to bomb an airplane, initially took officials in different directions.
Now, the source said, "the spider web" is starting to come together. Officials believe there are viable operatives -- described by this source as "people who are trained, equipped, resourced, with instructions -- maybe not with a 'go order' but all of the pieces are in place."
The source added that officials don't know where the operatives are but believe that there are "a lot" of them. This source said investigators have at least seven names. A second source said officials have identified at least some of the operatives but would not give numbers.
The first source did not believe a lot of new information had come in since Christmas, but said that, as officials followed threads, information that previously did not appear to be significant now appears to be.
The concern extends beyond aviation, and AbdulMutallab has told investigators the other operatives were trained to attack more than planes, the source said. All of the "normal vectors" are on the table -- trains, etc. -- but the belief is they would like to attack planes just to prove that they can, the source said.
The second source, a law enforcement source not authorized to speak for attribution about the investigation, also said the threat extends beyond aviation.
Also Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that aviation security was being tightened to include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals and the addition of names to the terrorist watch list.
The source did not say the security steps announced by Napolitano were connected with any threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
A source without access to intelligence said aviation security was "ramping up pretty hard. We don't do that for just anything." He said efforts were being made to put air marshals on all inbound flights.
Separately, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN that "the concerns have intensified since 12/25. There is every reason to believe AQAP is planning attacks against the U.S. There are people willing to assist them."
"There is a concerning stream of information related to AQAP and its intentions that we are taking a very close look at," the official added.
The report about "viable operatives" came a day after two senior officials told CNN that the United States was monitoring a "credible threat" from al Qaeda in Yemen against the U.S. homeland.

On Wednesday, one official said the threat was general in nature and a second said it was not a case of "we connected the dots to something imminent."

Houston - we have a cocaine problem.

CNN) -- NASA says it has launched an investigation after finding cocaine in a processing hangar for a space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A small amount of cocaine was found in a restricted area of the processing hangar for the shuttle Discovery, NASA said in a statement.
"This is a rare and isolated incident, and I'm disappointed that it happened, but it should not detract from the outstanding work that is being done by a dedicated team on a daily basis," Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said in the statement.
NASA has drug-tested employees who worked in that area, the statement said.
"There were about 200 NASA and contractor personnel who were around the facility at the time the drug was found," the statement said.
CNN affiliate WESH reported that the cocaine was found this week in a small bag on the floor near a bathroom in the restricted area.
NASA is using its own security and law enforcement officials to conduct the investigation.
Discovery's next launch is in March, NASA says.
"There is no reason whatsoever to believe this incident will have any impact on Discovery's upcoming launch," Cabana said


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