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Lawyers: Tenn. nuclear plant break-in was symbolic

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm •  Published: May 7, 2013

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers for an 83-year-old nun and two fellow nuclear protesters are calling their intrusion into a nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge in July a symbolic act featuring "Biblical graffiti."

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors say the act was a serious security breach that has disrupted operations at the facility to this day.

The trial of Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli, both of Washington, D.C., and Greg Boertje-Obed of Duluth, Minn., got underway Tuesday in Knoxville with testimony from Steven C. Erhart, the top federal official at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Erhart, the National Nuclear Security Administration manager at the site, says the break-in has hurt the international credibility of the weapons plant. But he also acknowledged under cross examination that it exposed serious security flaws that have since been repaired and improved.