Y-12, a National Security Complex, announced in 2021 that it had deployed Counter-UAS technology to counter unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems from flying over the facility.  The airspace over Y-12 has been designated as restricted airspace by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Y‑12 National Security Complex is a premier manufacturing facility dedicated to making our nation and the world a safer place and plays a vital role in the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Security Enterprise.

The Y-12 Counter-UAS technology is intended to detect, identify, and track unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that may be a nefarious threat to the complex.  According to Y-12, UAS threats to the complex may include, “…physical harm to a person; inflict or otherwise cause damage to property or systems; interfere with the operational mission of a covered facility or asset; conduct unauthorized surveillance or reconnaissance; or result in unauthorized access to, or disclosure of, classified or protected information.”

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act provides the legal authority from Congress for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to protect its facilities through its Counter-UAS program.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is also implementing “Left of Launch” initiatives in the local Oak Ridge, Tennessee, community to reduce the incidents of careless and clueless drone flights in and around the complex.  Left of Launch initiatives included educating the public through social media messages and advertisements, and installing signage around the Y-12 site perimeter notifying the public about airspace boundaries.

According to the Y-12 statement, “UAS operators who violate the airspace restrictions at Y-12 may also be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.”

For UAS operators who violate the Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions, NNSA will work closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to coordinate any necessary enforcement actions.

Related Content:

Title 50 U.S. Code Section 2661- Department of Energy

NNSA “No Drone Zones”

Analyzing the Threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to Nuclear Facilities