Overworked Guard Dogs Put Tennessee Nuclear Facility at Risk

Thursday, May 02, 2013
Guard dog from K-9 SOS, a longtime provider to Y-12 (photo: K-9 SOS)

Federal auditors have criticized a key nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee for allowing insufficient rest and improper training of guard dogs, which could potentially leave the facility at risk to intruders.


The inspector general (IG) for the Department of Energy found the handling of security canines at the Y-12 National Security Complex must be improved in order to assure the protection of the facility and the bomb-grade uranium stored there.


“We found that half of the canine teams we observed failed explosive detection tests, many canines failed to respond to at least one of the handler’s commands, and that canines did not receive all required training,” the report (pdf) states.


The dogs are provided through a contractor, presumably K-9 SOS, working under a five-year deal worth nearly $15 million.


The IG’s office said there had been claims the contactor had “rigged” proficiency tests for the dogs. But it was unable to confirm these accusations. Auditors did confirm claims that the dogs were overworked and not given enough rest between shifts, especially on hot days.


Y-12 has gotten into trouble before over security problems, including security personnel allegedly cheating on exams, and an incident last summer when three peace activists breached the site’s uranium storage area.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Tired, Poorly Trained Guard Dogs Could Endanger Nuclear Arms Site (by Diane Barnes, Government Executive)

Alleged Improprieties Regarding the Canine Program at the Department of Energy's Y-12 Site (Department of Energy, Office of the Inspector General) (pdf)

The 82-Year-Old Nun Who Breached U.S. High-Security Nuclear Complex (by Matt Bewig, AllGov) 

Lawsuit Challenges Effectiveness of Drug- and Bomb-Sniffing Police Dogs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

Military Dog Surge in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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