Government collars drunk nuclear weapons transport drivers

General Bernard A. Schriever (right) with members of Avco Cooperation (today: Textron, Inc) inspects an experimental missile warhead re-entry vehicle in 1959. Creating an effective nuclear-armed missile force was one of his main goals. ICBM Test Vehicle of U.S. Air Force Thor-Able Reentry Program. Recovered April 1959 after 5000 mile flight.

The words “drunk nuclear weapons drivers” constitute freak-out time. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/U.S. Air Force/Wikipedia)

Shipping and transporting nuclear weapons should be a tightly regulated affair, but as the Washington Post reports, some have played it fast and loose. According to a U.S. Energy Department oversight report, 16 incidents involving drunk government nuclear weapons drivers have been investigated. Though the people being investigated are government drivers, there is no evidence any of them operated a vehicle while intoxicated. Drivers were arrested by police while in the middle of nuclear weapons convoy missions between 2007 and 2009.

Drunk nuclear weapons drivers were on secure missions

“Secure transportation missions” are not the time to stop and tie one on, particularly when the safe transport of nuclear weapons is involved. Reports indicate that various drivers in question checked into various local hotels during long-range missions. Vehicles and payloads were stationed in “safe harbor” locations for security purposes while the drivers rested at the hotels. Drinking at hotel bars led to arrests for public intoxication, which, while not the same as DUI arrests, are just as troubling, considering the mission potential for catastrophe.

National Nuclear Security Administration reports made it clear that no evidence was found that drunk nuclear weapons drivers actually operated their vehicles while intoxicated. The NNSA Office of Secure Transportation underscored that after more than 100 million miles of secure nuclear weapons transportation, there has been no fatal accident or release of radiation.

Guidelines call for alcohol testing

Nuclear weapons transport drivers are required to submit to alcohol testing at least once per year, as well as when there is reasonable suspicion for further tests. Drivers are prohibited from consuming alcohol within 10 hours of beginning scheduled work. Agents who show a blood alcohol count of 0.02 or more are sent home.

According to NNSA reports, the small number of alcohol-related incidents that have been detected in the past have resulted in offending agents being removed from mission status immediately. Such a zero tolerance policy fits such a serious thing as nuclear weapons transport. But recent incidents present a “potential vulnerability” in the system that must be addressed, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns in a statement.


Washington Post

‘A potential vulnerability’

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