Official: Nuke Security Underfunded
By H. Josef Hebert
Associated Press Writer
April 22, 2002; 6:52 PM
WASHINGTON –– The Energy Department
complained to the White House in recent weeks that it was not getting the
money to protect against terrorists at its nuclear facilities, according
to a letter made public Monday.
In the letter, Bruce Carnes, a senior DOE budget director, complained
that his department did not have enough money "to implement the security
... requirements" needed in response to last September's terrorist
The letter, dated March 28, was sent to the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) at a time when administration officials, including senior DOE
officials, were saying security at the nuclear facilities was at a high
level and adequate to meet the terrorist threat.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who released the letter Monday, said it shows
"the White House refuses to deal with the consequences of September 11.
... That is very scary."
A frequent critic of security at federal and commercial nuclear
facilities, Markey said the White House and DOE have not "put security at
the top of their list. Clearly they've decided that even security has to
Lisa Cutler, a spokeswoman for the DOE's National Nuclear Security
Administration, said there is adequate money to meet security needs at
weapons facilities and nuclear research labs.
While declining to speak to Carnes' letter specifically, she said
"there are always discussions within the administration on the best way to
meet the security challenges."
But Cutler said, "If we find that we have any funding shortfalls we
will take steps. We will work with OMB or redirect funds from other
programs to make sure security needs are met."
In his letter, Carnes complained that the OMB had "refused our security
supplemental (budget) request" because the government had not yet
completed its revamping of a general security document that outlines what
kinds of threats the government must be prepared to defend against.
Carnes wrote to OMB that until the new so-called "design basis threat"
document is completed the department must work under interim security
guidelines reflecting conditions since Sept. 11 "and you have not provided
resources to enable us to do so."
When Markey was critical of security at the federal research labs and
other nuclear facilities in January, John Gordon, director of the DOE's
National Nuclear Security Administration, strongly disputed suggestions
that security was inadequate.
Markey said that contrasts sharply from the tone of Carnes' letter. He
said he wants to know why OMB "rejected (the) request for additional
funds" to implement new security guidelines.
© 2002 The Associated Press