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Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 21:56:52 -0400
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Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit  GREAT NPP

 In 1993, bin Laden's associates
threatened to attack "nuclear
targets" with "150 suicide soldiers" and trained
30 miles from Three Mile

  Hardcopy is pages 44-46 of the September 17,
2001 edition of "US News & World Report." If you
can get a copy, do- it includes a good layout of
an NPP facility.

  All representatives and heads of state in all 44
countries with commercial nuclear facilities
should be called upon IMMEDIATELY to shut their
NPPs & introduce the necessary safety precautions
that can withstand an airplane attack[s],shoulder
held weapons and suicide attacks on foot that can
easily cause a meltdown that would make
yesterday's attack look like minor. In the United
States, PLEASE call both of your Senators & your
rep at: 202-224-3121. In other countries please
use the necessary channels to lobby. TELL them NOT
to ever trust the NRC [] with
safety & security at NPPs [nuclear power plants].
NRC is and has always been in bed with the
industry they're supposed to
tml]. If they were truely interested in safety,
they'd long ago have called for the immediate
installation of wind power facilities and shutting
of all NPPs. There's enough wind power in just 3
US states-Texas, Kansas & N Dakota to provide
enough electricity for the entire USA.

  Statements that US NPPs are on highest alert
will do NOTHING to stop a Chernobyl like radiation
attack or several Chernobyls unleased on humanity
if airplanes and/or simple, easily available
shoulder held weapons are used to attack any NPP.
They are nuclear land mines waiting to be stepped
on as one US Senator [Lieberman I believe] has

 "Charles Manson could get access to a nuclear
power plant," says former nuclear security officer
Richard Kester.
But in light of attacks against fortified targets
such as U.S. embassies, threats against nuclear
plants are now considered very real.
Classified reports from Sandia National
Laboratories show that a well-placed truck bomb
would not even have to enter a site's property to
destroy vital equipment
High on critics' lists of concerns is the failure
rate in the NRC-run mock terrorist
assaults-attacks that, if real, could have
released radiation more lethal than the 1986
Chernobyl accident
      Nation & World 9/17/01

      A nuclear nightmare
      They look tough, but some plants are easy
marks for terrorists


      He called it Project Worst Nightmare. And in
the twisted mind of Donald Beauregard, commander
of the 77th Regiment Militia in St. Petersburg,
Fla., it surely was. Beauregard's plan was
simple-disable the electric power grid feeding the
nearby Crystal River nuclear power plant with
explosives stolen from a National Guard armory.
That would shut down the plant, blacking out St.
Petersburg. This was no idle fantasy. When the
cops finally caught up with him, Beauregard and
his "strike team" had a 20-mm cannon, a
.50-caliber machine gun, and a few pipe bombs
primed to blow.

      Beauregard might have succeeded if an
informant hadn't tipped the police. He was
prosecuted and clapped off to prison last year.
But the FBI took Beauregard's plan seriously
enough to incorporate it into a test it ran last
May against the Palo Verde nuclear generating
station in Arizona.

      And here lies the rub. In the past decade,
nearly half the nation's 103 power plants have
failed mock terrorist attacks against them. The
plants that failed, in other words, would not have
stopped the Donald Beauregards of the world.

      In the parlance of counterterrorism, nuclear
power plants are among the world's most "hardened"
targets. Barbed wire, surveillance cameras, motion
sensors, armed response teams-all are designed to
make the plants impenetrable to even the most
determined saboteur. But interviews with current
and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission
inspectors, security experts, and plant guards
paint a very different picture. Often, security
measures at nuclear plants don't work as they
should or don't work at all. A re- view of recent
incidents by U.S. News reveals numerous breakdowns
in plant security, from criminals being granted
access to sensitive areas to inadequate security
that places vital equipment within easy reach of
an attacker who never even enters the plant's

      Security experts say a terrorist is far more
likely to attack a so-called soft target- such as
a government building-than a nuclear power plant.
Indeed, argues Lynnette Hendricks of the Nuclear
Energy Institute, the nuclear power trade group:
"We believe the plants are overly defended at a
level that is not at all commensurate with the
risk." But in light of attacks against fortified
targets such as U.S. embassies, threats against
nuclear plants are now considered very real. And
concerns about security are likely to mount as the
Bush administration calls for greater use of
nuclear power. Last year, for instance, Japanese
police arrested a man with seven pipe bombs who
was planning to blow up a uranium processing
plant. Last September, Ukrainian police arrested a
group planning to sabotage the Chernobyl reactor.
And in the United States, officials list at least
30 threats against nuclear plants since 1978. Most
have been hoaxes, but in the mid-1980s, for
instance, three of four power lines leading to the
Palo Verde plant were sabotaged. And in 1989 four
members of Earth First!, a radical environmental
group, were charged with conspiring to disable
three nuclear power plants in the Southwest.

      Rating risks. Despite the threats and the
documented security flaws, the nuclear industry
has convinced the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission-the federal agency that oversees
nuclear power plants-that security at these sites
would function better with less federal oversight.
So starting this fall, the NRC will launch a pilot
program allowing the power companies to design
their own security exercises-a function formerly
performed by federal terrorism experts. The
industry says the new program will cost the plants
less, yet allow for more frequent tests. But
opponents, including many within the NRC, say the
industry's track record has hardly earned it the
right to looser regulation. In the past year
alone, NRC inspectors have discovered alarms and
video surveillance cameras that don't work, guards
who can't operate their weapons, and guns that
don't shoot. "I am very skeptical about the
nuclear industry's ability to regulate itself,"
says Rep. Edward J. Markey, a vocal critic of
nuclear security.

      High on critics' lists of concerns is the
failure rate in the NRC-run mock terrorist
assaults-attacks that, if real, could have
released radiation more lethal than the 1986
Chernobyl accident that resulted in an estimated
32,000 deaths. These exercises, called Operational
Safeguards Response Evaluations, or OSREs, have
been run by an outspoken former U.S. Navy SEAL
captain named David Orrick. In a typical exercise,
a team of three "terrorists" armed with small
weapons and basic knowledge of how a plant works
attempts to penetrate the facility. They evade or
disable security equipment and destroy a set of
targets in an effort to damage the plant's nuclear
core, causing a radioactive release. In some
cases, the mock terrorists make it all the way to
the sensitive control room-even though they give
plant operators ample advance notice of when they
intend to strike.

      Proponents of the NRC's mock attacks say
they teach valuable lessons. In 1999, the
Waterford 3 Nuclear Plant in Taft, La., failed a
preliminary mock attack, but the plant's managers
said that the exercise did not reflect the plant's
true capability. So Orrick's team returned last
year to conduct a more rigorous exercise against
the plant. "We [the NRC team] just ate them
alive," says one NRC inspector. The Waterford 3
site then hired more guards, improved training,
and fortified physical barriers. They finally
passed an NRC exercise last January. And in May,
security guards easily apprehended a man with a
history of mental illness who scaled a 10-foot,
barbed-wire fence surrounding the site.

      Still, critics charge that even the NRC's
mock terrorist attacks do not reflect today's
real-world scenarios. "There is nothing about
protecting against a helicopter assault or a
missile taking out one of our positions," says one
plant security guard. Last September, for
instance, an anti-nuclear demonstrator landed a
motorized parafoil on the roof of a nuclear
reactor in Bern, Switzerland, before being
apprehended by security guards.

      While nuclear plant operators design much of
their security to prevent attacks from the
outside, the record suggests that the greater
danger lies within. "If somebody got a job as a
janitor and got access to the plant, that's the
real threat," says Erik Pakieser, former nuclear
security officer at the Prairie Island nuclear
generating plant in Minnesota. For instance, at
the same time Donald Beauregard was cooking up his
Project Worst Nightmare, a maintenance technician
at the Crystal River site discovered that someone
had intentional- ly disabled one of the plant's
|emergency diesel generators. Some nuclear
security experts also believe that sabotage should
not have been ruled out so quickly as a possible
cause of the 1979 accident at the Three Mile
Island nuclear plant. Scientists at the Los Alamos
National Laboratory found striking similarities
between the incident and a computer-generated
sabotage scenario they had run several months

      Two decades later, critics remain troubled
by the sorts of individuals who can gain access to
a nuclear plant. In the early 1990s, a carpenter
named Carl Drega got jobs at three nuclear power
plants in the Northeast despite an arrest record
and a job reference that described him as
"volatile." Two months after Drega left the third
plant, in 1997, he shot four people to death,
including two state troopers, a judge, and a
newspaper editor. An NRC investigation of the
incident found that none of the three plants had
violated their regulations by hiring him.

      Easy access. Another insider, a computer
programmer who once worked in the control room at
the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant, goes to
trial next year for murdering seven of his
coworkers at a small Massachusetts technology
company. Plant coworkers said the programmer,
Michael McDermott, slept in a coffin and told a
colleague he was sometimes so angry he felt like
killing someone. In 1998, a worker at the Turkey
Point nuclear plant in Florida had free access to
critical areas of the plant for more than a month
before officials learned of his 14 arrests. And at
the Calvert Cliffs plant in Maryland, officials
took eight months to learn that a worker was an
illegal Mexican immigrant with fake identification
papers and an arrest record. "Charles Manson could
get access to a nuclear power plant," says former
nuclear security officer Richard Kester.

      But some experts worry that attackers can
succeed even without getting inside. Classified
reports from Sandia National Laboratories show
that a well-placed truck bomb would not even have
to enter a site's property to destroy vital
equipment, leading to a possible release of
radiation. In addition, experts say, the
water-intake systems at some plants are
particularly vulnerable to sabotage by either
cutting off the water supply by clogging the
intake valve or introducing volatile chemicals
into the reactor's cooling system.

      An even more accessible target may be spent
nuclear material piling up at these plants. Large
cooling pools inside reactor containment buildings
were designed to store this fuel, but several
years ago the pools began to fill up. Now, at many
plants, the highly radioactive fuel is stored in
cooling pools outside the containment building. "A
lot of the spent nuclear fuel casks can be hit
with a shoulder-fired missile by someone standing
outside the fence," says Dave Lochbaum, nuclear
safety engineer at the Union of Concerned
Scientists. Yet at plants that are being
decommissioned, the nuclear fuel is even less
closely guarded. The Maine Yankee plant, which has
stored 700 tons of spent fuel in outside cooling
pools, has removed all of its vehi- cle barriers
and received the NRC's permission to eliminate its
armed guard force once the fuel is placed into dry

      The chairman of the NRC, Richard Meserve,
says that no matter who runs the security drills,
the plants remain among the world's most heavily
guarded sites. And he says that the NRC mock
attacks are expensive for both the commission to
run and the plants to prepare for. "The reason we
are making a big deal about this," says the
Nuclear Energy Institute's Hendricks, is that the
corrective actions resulting from these exercises
" can have a tremendous impact" on a plant owner.
"It can cost a million dollars to make these
upgrades [of plant security]," she says. In any
case, says Meserve, the new self-assessment pro-
gram is only a trial: If it doesn't work, he says,
it will be scrapped.

      But the chorus of nuclear industry critics
continues to grow. "The overall focus [at these
sites] is not to protect the public but to get the
NRC's blessing and ensure profits," says one
nuclear security officer. Starting next week, the
Waterford 3 plant, which had boosted security to
pass the NRC's terrorist exercise, will begin to
reduce its training programs and its guard force.
"As soon as the NRC leaves," says one guard, "they
downgrade security."

      NRC Alters Oversight Rather Than Fix

      Because 50% of US nuclear plants fail "force
      force" security testing,
      many plants would have received a RED rating
      its security performance
      indicator. The number of mock attackers for
      tests is embarrassingly
      small and will not be disclosed here.
Rather than
      fix the problem, the NRC
      originally tried to do away with these

      Since that plan drew strong opposition from
      watchdogs and Congress, the NRC
      reinstated the testing. Plants continue
failing at
      the same rate.
      (Originally, we were led to believe that a
      rating of any performance
      indicator would require a shutdown until
      corrected. But, the NRC actually
      can allow multiple RED safety indicators by
      plant and permit continued
      operating. This is one of several reasons
the new
      color-coded regulatory
      system does not adequately define safety.)

      Now, the NRC has decided to just accept
      failed tests and designate
      nuclear plants as secure by giving ratings
      than RED. They justify
      this course by claiming that there is no
      risk because there is no
      reason to believe that a terrorist(s)would
      a nuclear plant.

      This comes just one day after learning
      bin Laden tried to purchase
      uranium. In 1993, bin Laden's associates
      threatened to attack "nuclear
      targets" with "150 suicide soldiers" and
      30 miles from Three Mile
      Island. Here is the NRC's statement from

      No. 01-013 February 8, 2001


      The Commission has approved interim guidance
to be
      used by the staff of the
      Nuclear Regulatory Commission in assessing
      results of security exercises
      at nuclear power plants.

      NRC regulations ensure that commercial
      power plants are among the
      most secure industrial facilities in the
      States with a capable and
      well-trained security force to serve as a
      deterrent to any potential
      adversary. The guidance will not change this
      requirement. As part of NRC's
      inspection effort to verify compliance with
      regulations, mock
      terrorists engage in a force-on-force
      which tests the security of
      nuclear power plants. But some problems have
      arisen in assessing the
      significance of security exercise findings
      the agency's revised
      Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) since its
      implementation in April

      Under the ROP, a Significance Determination
      Process is used which
      incorporates risk-informed insights to
assess the
      safety significance of
      inspection findings. When applied to
      exercises, the significance
      determination process over-estimated the
      significance of findings, leading
      to a higher level of NRC response than was
      warranted. The interim guidance
      approved by the Commission classifies
      from force-on-force exercises
      so that the level of significance more
      appropriately reflects the associated
      increase in risk to public health and

      Although the general nature of the threat
      power plants must protect
      themselves against is defined in NRC
      some of the provisions are
      difficult to interpret and the details and
      expectations have not always been
      communicated clearly and consistently by NRC
      licensees participating in
      security exercises. As a result, some
      inconsistencies have existed. Progress
      has been made by NRC in addressing these
      But, the Commission has
      directed the staff not to issue violations
      from force-on-force
      findings at this time. The Commission
      however, that deficiencies
      identified during force-on-force exercises
will be
      promptly addressed by the
      licensees' corrective action programs. In
      addition, licensees will remain
      subject to enforcement action if they fail
      comply with their security
      plan commitments.

      The staff will continue to work with
      in an open forum to
      resolve remaining challenges involved in
      evaluating security plan exercises
      and clarifying and revising NRC regulations
      through the rulemaking process.

      The Commission continues to believe that a
      safeguards and security
      program is a central and important
obligation of
      NRC licensees. During this
      interim period NRC licensees will be
expected to
      continue to meet the
      regulatory requirements for the physical
      protection of nuclear power plants
      and to take corrective action for
      identified during exercises.
      Typically, corrective actions are taken by
      licensees before NRC inspectors
      leave the facilities at the conclusion of a
      security exercise.

      # # #


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First posted September 22nd, 2001.

Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman