| Crime |

Nun Who Broke Into High-Security Nuclear Facility Has Arlington Rep. Joe Barton's Seal of Approval

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

At the end of July, Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun of the Society of the Holy Jesus Child, pulled off what The New York Times called "the biggest security breach in the history of the nation's atomic complex." Rice and two others, armed with flashlights and bolt cutters, slipped past the barbed wire and armed guards at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in the early hours of July 28 and hung banners and splashed blood on the new, half-billion dollar Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

Rice is a devoted anti-nuclear activist and has been arrested 40 or 50 times for civil disobedience, according to the Times, but breaking into one of the country's most secure nuclear facilities was new for her. The ease with which she did so was alarming, to say the least, and it prompted the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee to invite her to attend a hearing yesterday. Representative Joe Barton of Arlington, the committee's Republican chair, proceeded to thank Rice, according to The Associated Press.

"While I don't totally agree with your platform that you were espousing, I do thank you for bringing out the inadequacies in our security system," Barton said.

"That young lady there brought a Holy Bible," he added. "If she had been a terrorist, the Lord only knows what would have happened."

Others, like Texas Representative Michael Burgess, disagreed, but it's hard to argue that Rice didn't highlight ridiculously porous security measures at Oak Ridge. According to a Department of Energy report presented at the meeting, detectors that should have caught Rice and the others coming through the fence were broken.

Security officers who heard them hammering on the walls of their building assumed it was construction workers. The activists weren't caught until they approached a security officer's vehicle and surrendered. But don't worry. "Officials insisted that there was never any danger of activists getting to materials that could be detonated on site or used to assemble a dirty bomb," the AP reported.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.