Security Concerns at DOE's Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Production Facility

RCED-85-83: Published: Apr 22, 1985. Publicly Released: May 3, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed certain security concerns at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Production Facility, concentrating on four allegations: (1) a machine gun misfiring resulting in injuries; (2) a security guard's handgun discharging; (3) rifles being shoved into employees' stomachs during security exercises; and (4) a machine gun attached to an armored vehicle being pointed at street level during routine patrols which endangered facility employees.

GAO found that: (1) the misfired machine gun incident occurred at a remote firing range, and that while two of the guards were injured, Rocky Flat employees were not endangered; (2) the handgun which was discharged inside a tower was strictly against regulations and the guard involved had been reprimanded and suspended; (3) during simulated attack exercises, rifles have been inadvertently pointed at employees but there was no way to confirm that the rifles had been shoved into employees' stomachs; and (4) the contractor had amended its regulations to require machine guns to be mechanically secured by metal pins so that the barrels would point upwards when not in use. The contractor had stated a preference for military personnel instead of the security guards; however, DOE considers the guard force to be well-trained and qualified to perform its security functions. The contractor had developed a video tape which addresses the need for the increased security at the plant, but it cannot be sure that it fully explains matters to the employees due to the classified nature of the plant.

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