What is wrong with security at nuclear reactors?
In simple terms, the public is protected from the radioactivity by steel reinforced concrete
walls, zircaloy cladding surrounding fuel assemblies, and pools of circulating coolant water.
A terrorist or saboteur would try to breach containment, cut the water supply, or cut the
electricity to disable operating systems.
NRC SECURITY REGULATIONS – INADEQUATE
For example: Pilgrim’s security is not responsible for providing protection against “enemies
of the state,” (terrorists are enemies of the state); instead that is the responsibility of
the federal government. Pilgrim’s security is simply required to delay attackers until
outside help arrives from local sheriff departments, state police, or the FBI; however, it
is likely that it will take too long for them to arrive. Furthermore, neither the federal government nor local
outside help has participated in actual (as opposed to table top) onsite coordinated drills with Pilgrim’s own security.
TARGETS – DANGER AND VULNERABILITY
Reactor Core: A nuclear meltdown, exposing the fuel assemblies inside the reactor core, can be accomplished by breaching the primary containment wall. A jet, smaller than that used in the Twin Towers attack, would do. Federal reports state that 1 out of 2 commercial planes flying today could breach these buildings.
Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSI): An ISFSI poses a radiological risk that is lower than the risk posed by a spent-fuel pool packed at high density. Nevertheless, options are available for reducing the risk associated with malice-induced accidents at an ISFSI. NRC refuses to consider these options in an EIS. Also, NRC attempts to hide the vulnerabilities of existing ISFSIs under a veil of secrecy.
Disabling necessary support systems: Nuclear plant owners would like us to now believe their facilities are hardened structures virtually immune to attack from the air. But what the nuclear industry asserts as confidence appears more like a confidence game. The thick, reinforced walls do not surround all vital parts of a nuclear power plant—as the industry knows very well. For example the control buildings at every nuclear plant in the United States are located outside the robust structures described by the industry. Thus, the nuclear industry’s proclamations about the robustness of thick, reinforced walls may be accurate, but they fail to tell the entire story.Alternatively, a nuclear meltdown could occur by disabling key secondary support: such as cutting off electrical power to a plant/spent fuel pool and disabling the backup generators; clogging or cutting off the main water supply to the plant/spent fuel pool; and gaining control to the control room. Cyber attacks are a very real and recent concern.
Air: Since September 11, 2001, a “no- fly” zone was put into effect for a short period, and
was then eliminated. Because of the proximity of Boston and other airports, a “no fly” zone
can not be large enough to permit effective response by Air Force or National Guard fighter
aircraft. Even at the relatively slow speed of 300 miles per hour, a ten-mile “no fly” zone
would provide only 2 minutes advance warning. We understand that the time for the nearest interceptor jets on “high
alert” simply to be airborne is approximately ten minutes and travel time to
Plymouth longer. Flights between secondary airports do not even
screen passengers. Hyannis, for example, is a five minute flight from Pilgrim
and there is no separation between the cabin and cockpit. To address this,
the following strategies have been suggested: a
combination of on-site missiles and a no-fly zone; requiring a Beamhedge
Shield [see Committee to Bridge the Gap for a video and discussion about the
http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/beamhenge.html]; or at the very least
reduce the vulnerability of the spent fuel pool by returning the pool to low
density and placing the majority of the assemblies in secured and dispersed
dry casks. More
FEDERAL TESTS OF SECURITY – NOT CREDIBLE/INADEQUATE
NRC MODIFIES SECURITY REGULATIONS – AVAILABILITY SECURITY
INFORMATION, INCLUDING LICENSEE’S PERFORMANCE ON TESTS, RESTRICTED TO PUBLIC
HOW TO BETTER DEFEND SPENT FUEL
Order the transfer of all but the recently unloaded spent fuel rods from the spent fuel pool (that requires human intervention, electricity and other features) to a secured dry cask system (a passive design, with no mechanical components). This technology significantly increases the security of waste materials.
List of resources, latest research, available. More
Committee to Bridge the Gap: http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/beamhenge.html
C-10 Research and Education Foundation: http://www.c-10.org/nuclear-waste-storage.html
Nuclear Spent Fuel & Homeland Security, The Case for Hardened Storage:View 10 minute presentation
Institute for Resource and Security Studies: http://www.irss-usa.org/pages/enpub.html
Nuclear Control Institute http://www.nci.org/
Independent research and advocacy center specializing in problems of nuclear security.
"Nuclear Unsecured: America's Vulnerable
Nuclear Plants", Public Citizen, Nov/Dec 2004
GAO Report (GAO-03-752), "Oversight of Security at Commercial Nuclear Power Plants Needs to be Strengthened," September 2003 http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03752.pdf
Are These Towers Safe? Time Magazine, June 20, 2005 - read this article
POGO’s presentation to the
National Academy of Sciences on the “Vulnerability of Spent Fuel Pools" -
Gordon Thompson, Robust Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Neglected
Issue of Homeland Security, p. E-S 5, December 2002.