BEYOND NUCLEAR PUBLICATIONS

Search
JOIN OUR NETWORK

     

     

DonateNow

Security

Nuclear reactors are sitting-duck targets, poorly protected and vulnerable to sabotage or attack. If their radioactive inventories were released in the event of a serious attack, hundreds of thousands of people could die immediately, or later, due to radiation sickness or latent cancers. Vast areas of the U.S. could become national sacrifice zones - an outcome too serious to risk. Beyond Nuclear advocates for the shutdown of nuclear power.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Monday
Jun302014

"GAO: N-weapons sites need a ‘clear vision’ on security"

As reported at Frank Munger's Atomic City Underground blog at the Knoxville News:

"Efforts to reform security activities and cut costs at the nuclear weapons sites in the 2009-2012 timeframe have been among the things blamed for the July 28, 2012 security breach at Y-12. In a new report released today, the Government Accountability Office takes a look at what the National Nuclear Security Administration has done to address security and what it should be doing.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

“After the Y-12 security breach, NNSA took a  number of actions designed to improve its security performance and oversight but did so without first developing a clear vision and path forward for its security program and an implementation strategy, including milestones and responsibilities for carrying them out . . . ”

For the purposes of this evaluation, GAO visited three NNSA sites — Lawrence Livermore, Pantex and the Nevada National Security Site – and contacted the other sites, including Y-12, by telephone, according to the report.

In a May 20 response to the 37-page report, NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz noted the GAO’s recommendation that NNSA develop a “road map” for security, and Klotz said such an effort is already under way, with a scheduled completion date of Dec. 31, 2014."

Friday
Jun272014

Fired security guard whistleblowers speak out against Palisades at NRC meeting

As reported by the Kalamazoo Gazette and Michigan Radio, three security guard force whistleblowers spoke out an a Nuclear Regulatory Commission public meeting last night, alleging that they were terminated from Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor because they raised safety and security concerns.

The attorney representing two of the three whistle blowers, Billie Pirner Garde of Washington, D.C., phoned into the meeting as well.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, as well as members of Michigan Safe Energy Future, and other concerned local residents, also spoke out at the meeting.

Kevin discussed a long list of security failures at Palisades, including a scandal involving the chief of security exposed by Esquire magazine in 2007, as well as incidents in 2002: a security guard suffering a nervous breakdown on the job, while armed, after having been forced to work 72 hours per week for a solid year; and three suspicious cars penetrating deep into Palisades, but driving off without ever being stopped, because Palisades security guard force phoned the wrong local law enforcement agency, resulting in a 45 minute delay in response.

Remarkably, nearly 12 years after POGO first warned about security weaknesses at Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City, Entergy's security failures continue today, as at Palisades.

At a recent meeting with NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane, Kevin objected to NRC Region 3 Office of Public Affairs spokesman Viktoria Mytling expressing agency support for a state bill in Michigan granting immunity to nuclear power plant security guards for lethal shootings. The sponsor of the bill has been quoted warning environmentalists that they should think twice before protesting at nuclear plants.

The coalition also expressed concern to Chairman Macfarlane about the recipe for disaster of Palisades problem-plagued security guard force now being granted immunity for fatal shootings, with a state park immediately to the north, and a resort community immediately to the south. In addition, the State of Michigan has established a waterway trail on Lake Michigan, encouraging kayakers to travel past Palisades. Although there are buoys in the Lake demarcating Palisades' property, there is no signage warning boaters that they are entering a zone where use of lethal force is authorized.

WOOD TV and WSBT TV also reported on last night's NRC meeting.

Thursday
May222014

Chinese military cyber-attack hacks Westinghouse nuclear secrets; How vulnerable are US reactors to "offensive cyber-inovations"?

The U.S. Justice Department has indicted five members of China’s Peoples Liberation Army on charges of economic espionage and cyber-theft. The Chinese military officers allegedly hacked into company computers and stole an estimated $100 billion in trade secrets from Westinghouse Nuclear Division and other leading U.S. steel and solar power firms. The federal grand jury indictments against a foreign country on cyber-security charges are unprecedented.  The Pittsburgh, PA-based Westinghouse Nuclear Division was in the middle of a huge nuclear technology transfer for the construction of its AP1000 nuclear power plants in China when it was announced that the Chinese military was at the same time stealing propriety information about the reactor technology and Westinghouse’s negotiation strategies.  At the same time, China is ambitiously establishing itself as a global leader in the marketing of nuclear power technology with its own nuclear reactor design based largely on the AP1000 pressurized water reactor.

The grand jury indictments focus on the cyber-theft of industrial secrets aimed at gaining an international competitive edge over “fair trade” with the U.S.-based companies. However, the discovery raises long standing and on-going national security, public health and safety concerns associated with the potential for large scale military cyber-attacks against vulnerable critical infrastructure, particularly a vast patchwork electrical grid system and inherently dangerous nuclear power plants.  U.S. nuclear power plants initially rely upon the offsite electrical grid to power all of the onsite reactor safety systems.  A standoff cyber-attack not only can shutdown the electrical production from nuclear reactors but target internal components where failure leads to radiological catastrophe. “Offensive cyber-innovations” aimed at destroying nuclear infrastructure and internal systems are not unprecedented. In 2010, the United States and Israel conducted a joint cyber-attack code-named “Olympic Games” where the Stuxnet computer worm disabled Iran’s nuclear program by ruining roughly one-fifth of its German-made uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Tuesday
May132014

"Senators Markey, Boxer and Sanders Introduce Legislation to Increase Safety at Nuclear Plants"

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works CommitteeU.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA, photo at left), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced three bills today aimed at improving the safety and security of decommissioning reactors and the storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear plants across the nation. 

The three bills address safety of spent fuel storage and decommissioning plans. They are entitled: Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2014; Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2014 (see the bill, Sen. Sanders' press release, and a one-page summary); Dry Cask Storage Act of 2014. To learn more, see the press release at Sen. Markey's website.

The EPW Committee will hold and webcast a hearing entitled “Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning: Stakeholder Views” on Wed., May 14th, at 10 AM Eastern. Witnesses include CA and VT officials, and spokespeople from NRDC and NEI.

Please urge your two U.S. Senators to support these three bills. You can contact your Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Friday
May022014

"Senators to NRC: Do Not Exempt Decommissioning Nuclear Reactors from Emergency Response and Security Measures"

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairwoman, Environment and Public Works CommitteeFive Democratic U.S. Senators have written U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, uring that NRC's rubberstamp of exemptions from emergency preparedness and security requirements at permanently shutdown nuclear power plants be stopped.

The five Senators are: Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Edward J. Markey (D-MA); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Bernard Sanders (D-VT). Boxer (photo, above left) is Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, with oversight on NRC and nuclear power issues; Gillibrand, Markey, and Sanders also serve on the EPW Committee.

Their letter points out that nuclear utilities have always received requested exemptions, within just a year or two of reactor shutdowns, from NRC, at permanently shutdown nuclear power plants. This, despite the fact that the nuclear plants still have large amounts of irradiated nuclear fuel stored in pools, vulnerable to catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity, such as due to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, heavy load drops, etc.

The Senators list NRC's "perfect record" of such regulatory relaxation at: Humboldt Bay, CA; LaCrosse, WI; Fort St. Vrain, CO; Rancho Seco, CA; Yankee Rowe, MA; Trojan, OR; Haddam Neck, CT; Maine Yankee; Big Rock Point, MI; and Zion, IL.

Most ironically, NRC consistently stands by its indefensible claim that high-level radioactive waste storage is safe, sound, and secure, and will remain so for at least 60 years post-reactor shutdown, by citing the existence of emergency preparedness and security regulations. Yet, it is these very regulations that NRC consistently exempts shutdown nuclear plants from having to meet!

The Senators have urged NRC chief Macfarlane to not grant such requested exemptions at the five atomic reactors permanently shutdown in 2013 (Crystal River, FL; Kewaunee, WI; San Onofre 2 & 3, CA) or about to be shutdown by the end of 2014 (Vermont Yankee).

On April 10, Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project Director, Paul Gunter, urged NRC to enforce emergency preparedness and security regulations at decommissioning nuclear power plant sites, due to the potentially catastrophic risks associated with the irradiated nuclear fuel still stored there.