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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 11/22/2010

Report: Nuclear weapon drivers drank on the job

By Ed O'Keefe

Federal agents responsible for driving nuclear weapons and other sensitive materials sometimes got drunk and were detained by police while on the job, according to a new watchdog report.

A report released Monday by the Energy Department's Office of Inspector General found 16 alcohol-related incidents between 2007 and 2009 involving personnel with the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Surface Transportation (OST). About 600 OST agents are responsible for safely transporting or shipping nuclear weapons and other materials across the country.

Two incidents involved extended overnight missions where OST agents parked convoy vehicles in safe harbor before checking in at nearby hotels, the report said. In separate incidents, an agent was arrested in 2007 for public intoxication while two agents were handcuffed and temporarily detained by police officers in 2009, according to the report.

"Alcohol incidents such as these, as infrequent as they may be, indicate a potential vulnerability in OST's critical national security mission," the report said.

In a statement, NNSA spokesman Damien LaVera said that NNSA officers have safely transported the nation's nuclear materials more than 100 million miles without a deadly accident or release of radiation. The report did not find evidence that agents were driving while intoxicated, he said.

"NNSA takes each of these cases very seriously, and is working to evaluate the inspector general's report and make additional improvements to the program," LaVera said.

The office requires its agents to undergo alcohol testing at least once every 12 months or when there is reasonable suspicion of alcohol use, according to the report. OST commanders ask agents during roll-call whether they are fit for duty. Officers are required to tell commanders if they are not, the report said.

The agency prohibits agents from consuming alcohol 10 hours before reporting to work and agents found with an alcohol level of .02 or higher must be sent home. OST also conducts alcohol awareness briefings, the report said.

The inspector general's office investigated the issue after receiving allegations of alcohol-related incidents involving agents and agent candidates at the OST training facility in Fort Chaffee, Ark.

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This post has been updated since it was first published.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 22, 2010; 11:57 AM ET
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Comments

K.I. Sock it Dog Airmen should be handling the nukes.

Posted by: Moley2 | November 22, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Some NRC Drivers are relaxing, and having a drink or 2 or 3 in the evening after parking their trucks/nuclear cargo in a safe place. Gee, I would have never guessed that after a high pressure, and stressful day, hauling around highly radioactive cargo accident free, that dinner and several drinks were on the evenings activity list. Who would have thought. Give me a break, leave these people alone and let them get on with their job safely.

Posted by: chief6309 | November 22, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Great. It's only a matter of time before one of the drivers shouts to the other: "Hey Earl! Watch this!"

Duck and cover, everyone.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 22, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Why is this done by bureaucrats and not Marines?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 22, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Unless there's more to the story, it looks as if NNSA is taking reasonable steps to address a fairly common personnel problem. If they had some cases of DUI while on the road, I might worry a little more.

Posted by: TexLex | November 22, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

A fire in a missile silo that goes 4 days before being deteted may be more serious. Or missing suitcase portable nukes.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | November 22, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

This article is not a lie in that the drivers were 'on the job' while overnighting in a hotel - at which they drank. Otherwise the headline is deliberately misleading to the point of being a lie. The drivers weren't cruising down the road, swilling a beer with nukes on a trailer see-sawing through traffic - the image that the headline invokes.

Posted by: NoEcho1 | November 22, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Or missing suitcase portable nukes."
These are no longer in existence. The Davy Crocket is long, long gone, and there is no replacement for it.

This goes to show that we need to keep around as many nuclear weapons as possible, right?

Posted by: j762 | November 22, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Cops the world over. Ive seen police in Australia drunker than those they have pulled over and put on the bag. Random Breathe Testing diligently maintained clears up many problems.

Posted by: fromNewSouthChina | November 22, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Too many posters here seem to think that this is no big deal. Are you kidding me? Military personnel who are anywhere near nukes have to have a Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) clearance. One alcohol-related incident that involves law enforcement and you are out of the program permanently, regardless of whether you are on duty or not.

And I love the rationalization of the NNSA spokesman. Hey, spinmeister. It doesn't matter how many millions of times a nuke doesn't get lost. You only have to lose one to have a major "uh-oh" moment.

Posted by: hisroc | November 22, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse


You see? Well, there you go. Just goes to show you how wrong we are and that we should adopt Sharia Law and let the MUSLIMS lead us out of this mess and then to Allah, may He be praised.

You see Islam is against alcohol to the extent that transgressors will be SEVERELY punished. You know what I mean.

So, with MUSLIM drivers, our nukes will be in SOBER hands.

Posted by: notinco | November 22, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

NoEcho1 wrote,

"Otherwise the headline is deliberately misleading to the point of being a lie. The drivers weren't cruising down the road, swilling a beer with nukes on a trailer see-sawing through traffic - the image that the headline invokes."

Get real. They're violating the terms of their employment in that they're still on the job. If, instead of driving nukes around, they were carrying a suitcase with the launch codes and were responsible for it even while at the hotel then would you have no problem if they took a load off to swill a bunch of beers?

Posted by: brwntrt | November 22, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

NoEcho1 wrote,

"Otherwise the headline is deliberately misleading to the point of being a lie. The drivers weren't cruising down the road, swilling a beer with nukes on a trailer see-sawing through traffic - the image that the headline invokes."

Get real. They're violating the terms of their employment in that they're still on the job. If, instead of driving nukes around, they were carrying a suitcase with the launch codes and were responsible for it even while at the hotel then would you have no problem if they took a load off to swill a bunch of beers?

Posted by: brwntrt | November 22, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Fire and incarcerate all that have been guilty of drinking on the job or driving while under the influence or while intoxicated. Institute a zero alcohol consumption and zero drug abuse policy. There is no reason for a beer or anything else within 72 hours of their work schedule.

For all you knuckleheads advocating for these morons, get a grip. Do you want a doctor, nurse, pilot, ship captain or hand, police officer, fire fighter, teacher, etc. to have drinks the night before they work? If you say it is OK, you need to get some help. Responsibility and sacrifice comes with the job. If they don't like it, they can quit.

Posted by: neil64 | November 23, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

LOL, is anyone actually surprised by this? I know I am not.

www.privacy-tools.edu.tc

Posted by: clermontpc | November 23, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

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