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Elderly nun and accomplices breach uranium facility security

In July 2012, three anti-nuclear activists breached security at a major uranium storage facility, leading major law enforcement agencies and lawmakers to investigate the matter. As it turns out, the revolutionaries were elderly, including an 82-year-old nun, according to a report by Reuters.

“If there’s ever a time for more aggressive oversight, this is it,” said Republican Representative Joe Barton, according to Reuters.

The investigation into the incident revealed that surveillance cameras located in a critical spot of the facility have been broken for a few months. Furthermore, an internal Energy Department evaluation found that security guards were not monitoring the perimeter properly and ignored several alarms because they are allegedly regularly tripped by surrounding wildlife, Reuters reported.

“If she had been a terrorist, the Lord only knows what could have happened,” Barton said, according to Reuters.

The security breach highlighted an ongoing concern regarding the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration and lax oversight at nuclear factories and weapons plants, Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman said, according to the news source. The event has also introduced a debate whether a new program would make hiring security professionals and implementing integrated security systems more effective.

“The problems we continue to identify in the nuclear security enterprise are not caused by excessive oversight, but instead result from ineffective oversight,” said Mark Gaffigan, a managing director at the Government Accountability Office, according to Reuters.

Integrated security may be the key
A separate study by IMS Research highlighted the benefits of using an integrated security system, which combines multiple tools together to improve the management, maintenance and, most importantly, effectiveness of crime-deterring technologies.

“Security customers today are more frequently asking for only what they need and nothing more in a new security system installation. This is as a result of lower budgets and a tightening of belts across most industries,” said Niall Jenkins, analyst at IMS Research. “However, as the global economy recovers, and budget restraints loosen, there are clear advantages to spending security budget on integrated security systems.”

IMS Research noted that nearly three-quarters of all security installations throughout Europe in 2013 will be integrated with other solutions. This trend will likely migrate around the world as the global economy continues to send decision-makers mixed signals.

Advanced integrated security systems can enhance the physical protection of sensitive resources but can also help companies reduce long-term and maintenance expenses associated with managing defenses. This will become increasingly important in the coming years, especially if the economic turbulence doesn’t let up anytime soon.

By implementing an advanced physical security system, organizations across sectors can enhance the protection of whatever assets they deem valuable, whether these are mission-critical documents or stockpiles of uranium. Neglecting to deploy robust security will only make assets more vulnerable – even to 82-year-old nuns.

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