Armed convoy climbs the hill

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By Roger Snodgrass

An unusual road show was spotted approaching Los Alamos Oct. 31.


Along with a big rig, the convoy included an assortment of support vehicles with darkened windows.


Lacking the cargo of cylindrical Trupak casks, the truck was clearly not deadheading back to Los Alamos National Laboratory after a nuclear waste delivery to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad, a familiar sight in these parts.


A reporter’s call to the laboratory’s communications office yielded no additional information, accept to say that it was probably the Office of Secure Transportation and that nothing more could be said.


The job of transporting nuclear weapons and other sensitive nuclear components from one place to another belongs to an organization within the National Nuclear Security Administration, known as the Office of Secure Transportation (OST).


A two-part news report on a Las Vegas television station (KLAS Channel 8) that ran last week included interviews with several OST officials and agents, and the information that the agency’s vehicles have traveled more than 110 million miles without serious incident, since it began in 1975. The series was called “The Road Warriors.”


A recruitment brochure on the OST website says the agency is hiring, during a two-week period every six months.


Applicants are expected to have a minimum of one-year armed security-related experience, which might have come from the armed forces, Coast Guard or other federal, state, local government or private organizations.


The brochure says the federal agents can be expected to spend five days a week, three weeks a month, traveling or training.


“Agents may be called upon to use deadly force if necessary to prevent the theft, sabotage or takeover of protected material by unauthorized persons,” the brochure states.


“LANL – The Rest of the Story,” an unofficial blog devoted to the laboratory, cited the television stories in an article Monday on employment alternatives.


Because of the stress and inherent danger, “Nuclear Materials Courier positions are covered under the provisions of a federal 20-year retirement program.”