Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Link here. Key quote:
Unlike civilian stocks, which are closely monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and openly regulated – with reports of thefts or disappearances sent to an international agency in Vienna — the handling of military stocks tended by the Department of Energy is much less transparent.
The Energy Department, which declined comment for this story, doesn’t talk about instances of lost and stolen nuclear material produced for the military. It also has been less willing than the commission to punish its contractors when they lose track of such material, several incidents suggest.
As much as six tons of nuclear material is recorded as missing and unaccounted. Worse,
Regarding transfers to academic researchers, government agencies, or commercial firms within the United States, the Energy Department’s inspector general concluded in 2009 –the most recent public accounting – that at least a pound of plutonium and 45 pounds of highly-enriched uranium loaned from military stocks had been officially listed until 2004 as securely stored, when in fact it was missing.
The most important point made by the article is that the federal government imposes no consequences on anyone in the government who screws up in this matter. In fact, the article cites examples where the incompetent were given awards afterward. Meanwhile, this same federal government has punished private contractors very severely for similar mishaps.
This really is par for the course. The federal government today is terribly run, and those in charge routinely get away with being incompetent, and often get bonuses for being so. If we had any sense, we’d shut it down, firing everyone. We could quickly hire new people and get things done better.