September 25, 2006, - 2:55 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
One of the biggest criticisms of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff a/k/a Mr. Burns is that he’s done nothing to secure power, chemical, and munitions plants. And apparently, he doesn’t really care about the complaints.
While it’s the responsibility of private companies to secure their plants, it’s also DHS’ responsibility to make sure they are doing so. And they aren’t. That’s evidenced by the lax security and a break in, recently at Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport, Tennessee–breaches of which are detailed in an AP story.
Unlike most private weapons producers, Holston is government-owned facility, but operated by a private contractor–Royal Ordnance, a division of English defense giant BAE. Its security falls under the jurisdiction of not only the Army, but also the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, the latter of which is too lazy, apparently, to be involved.
It is the largest capacity supplier of high performance explosives in the country. Among the many unique products produced here are the explosive powders used to trigger nuclear weapons.
The plant, which houses one of the military’s major suppliers of explosives, is a sieve. Guards at the plant say boaters have entered a restricted area on a river that runs by the property, that there are holes in the fense, that hunters have repeatedly entered the grounds, and that two teens recently trespassed on the site, right near the explosives. But, according to AP, supervisors complained that the company has ignored their concerns:
“We’re really not prepared,” Ron Nitrio, a security officer at the plant for 15 years, said in an interview. “If somebody wants to get in the base – they can get in almost anytime, almost anywhere.”
While some Senators wrote the U.S. Army’s Inspector General to complain, they should be writing to Chertoff, too. It seems on-again, off-again liquid and gel restrictions are far less important than completely insecure explosive factories that are ripe for terrorist pilfering of materiel to be used against Americans at a later point in time.
More on Holston.
Tags: Army, BAE, Debbie Schlussel One, defense giant, Explosives Plant By Debbie Schlussel, Holston Army Ammunition Plant, Homeland Security chief, Inspector General, Kingsport, Michael Chertoff, private contractor, private weapons producers, Ron Nitrio, security officer, Tennessee