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Accidental Release of U.S. Nuclear Sites Sparks Security Concerns

3 June 2009 1:04 pm
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The U.S. Government Printing Office has come under criticism for accidentally publishing on its site a 266-page report that contains a list of "highly confidential" nuclear sites around the United States. The list includes obvious places like Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and more obscure university, private, and government facilities that do research and development work related to nuclear technology. The document was removed from the Government Printing Office's site on Tuesday after inquiries about it from The New York Times.

The document's existence was made known by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists in Secrecy News, an electronic newsletter that Aftergood publishes on the Web. In an interview with The New York Times, Aftergood called the document a "one-stop shop for information on U.S. nuclear programs."

However, the mistake is unlikely to endanger global security in any significant way, according to many experts. The document contains "interesting, but not particularly exciting, information," says Benn Tannenbaum of the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at AAAS (ScienceInsider's publisher). "If you were a terrorist and wanted to build a bomb, you could figure out who has weapons-grade nuclear material from plenty of other sources, and the pictures from Google Earth are much better than the maps found in the report."

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