NEI Rebuts Paper's Assertions on Reactors' Vulnerability to Terrorism

A widely circulated paper released Thursday by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas analyzed security at American nuclear plants and suggested they are not adequately protected from terrorists.

The report, authored by an NPPP graduate research assistant, asserted that weaknesses at power plants include a lack of safeguards against .50 caliber rifles and rocket propelled grenades, attacks from the water, attacks involving a large number of terrorists or sabotage, such as the draining of spent fuel pools. The report was also critical of security at research reactors and concluded that facilities licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should conduct the same type of threat assessment as those overseen by the Departments of Energy and Defense.

Not surprisingly, the nuclear power industry's largest trade group took issue with the paper soon after it was released.

"There's a common/recurring flaw in many such evaluations of nuclear plant security: They ever fail to explain how attackers upon a nuclear power plant will be able to dislodge highly irradiated fuel, stored in tons-weighing 18-foot tall assemblies in reactors, pools, or in megaton dry casks, and maneuver them past layers of elaborate security measures," NEI's John Keeley wrote on the organization's blog.

He noted that security forces at nuclear plants have increased 60 percent since 9/11 to include 9,000 officers. Their services are in addition to $2 billion in security system enhancements made in that time. Each plant has conducted an aircraft impact assessment, Keeley noted, although he argued that ultimately the military, and not utilities, is charged with defending critical infrastructure from air attacks.

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  • Anonymous

    While security is an imperative, These ridiculous demands that nuclear facilities have to be guarded against massive armed terrorist offensives, and therefore must include a militarized component in nuclear facility construction, only confirms the presence of the anti-nuclear faction in US Academia. We should further read between the lines, that an offensive is threatened in these 'papers' against nuclear power. The college curriculum itself is under attack, perverting science and its goals, which is to drive the perpetuation of the human species through discoveries of physical principles and further its derivative technologies that enhance our standard of living. Do not be afraid, we have a great future head of us.

  • Anonymous

    How much security does the US have at fossil plants? How much highly combustible materials do these plants contain and what is the potential destruction of human life if these plants were to be infiltrated by terrorists? I have yet to see any focus being put on these questions, and it doesn't surprise me that Texas is more concerned with focusing on the vulnerabilities of Nuclear Power, rather than admitting to the massively vulnerabilities of any number of facilities on the oil industry. More damage was done to the environment by Deepwater Horizon than any of the so called nuclear accidents combined. More people have died in fertilizer plant explosions than ever have or will die from any nuclear power plant related event. It is time to end the mindless one sidedness of these debates, and stage an effective counter-fact offensive.

  • Anonymous

    Fear rules!!! Irrational fear of nuclear power - "glowing green" -  rules ultimately!! Public is scared of unseen and unfeeling nuclear radiation of ANY amount and will continue to be scared until the regulators publicly change their attitude toward accepting as non damaging to humans doses of a few multiples of the highest natural background and contamination internal and/or external that can generate such doses that are only assumed to be damaging. Until then instead of calming the fears the regulators are mightily fanning it.

  • UPDATE: Even the NRC's chimed in on this report. Via CNN:

    "The report released today by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project is a rehash of arguments from a decade ago when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the country were reconsidering nuclear power plant security in the wake of the September 11 attacks," David McIntyre, a spokesman with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in a statement.

    "The report contains no new information or insight. The NRC has strengthened security requirements for commercial nuclear power plants and remains confident that these important facilities are adequately protected."

    Also worth noting: The NNSA's efforts to cut the number of research reactors using HEU


    Nuclear Street News Team