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Drones may constitute a threat to sensitive installations. The Y‑12 National Security Complex is a United States Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration facility located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The installation plays a vital role in the Department of Energy. Helping ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent, the complex retrieves and stores nuclear materials.

As such, Y-12 has recently deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, over its airspace, which is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated “No Drone Zone.”

“The National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office (NPO) is announcing this deployment and the airspace restriction to the public to minimize the threat of unauthorized UAS flights over Y-12,” Teresa Robbins, NPO manager, stated in a news release. “This will enhance our ability to effectively protect this vital national security facility.”

The Y-12 system is intended to detect, identify and track potentially malicious UAS threats, the release stated. A threat is defined by the FAA as the reasonable likelihood that a UAS or unmanned aircraft activity, if unabated, could inflict or otherwise cause 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. 

UAS operators who violate the airspace restrictions at Y-12 may also be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges, according to oakridger.com.