When driving down the interstate next to an unmarked 18-wheeler, drivers may want to think twice before weaving in and out of traffic. The Los Angeles Times reports that those unmarked 18-wheeler could contain nuclear bombs.
The Times reports the Office of Secure Transportation is so covert that few people know of its existence (until now), but the office manages 42 tractor-trailers used to carry nuclear cargo across the country each day. The Times found the office is 48 agents short of its planned 370 staff members, has a history of employees with alcohol problems, and a truck fleet that is past its operational life by commercial trucking standards.
“The terror threat is significant,” said one high-level Energy Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the program publicly. “If you are in one of the communities along the route, you have something to worry about.” The selected routes run primarily along I-10 and I-20 in the South and crisscross the western United States connecting weapons facilities and military bases.
However, “the high-security trailers that carry the weapons present potential intruders with formidable obstacles, including shock-delivering systems, thick walls that ooze immobilizing foam, and axles designed to explode to prevent a trailer from being towed away, according to independent nuclear weapons experts,” The Times reported.
Though the office is only able to replace five trucks a year, the older rigs are maintained and log fewer miles than comparable commercial trucks, and The Times reports officials are confident the rigs can do the job.
Source: Los Angeles Times