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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.

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Thursday
Jun162016

Beyond Nuclear challenges safety & security risks at Point Beach atomic reactors on Lake Michigan shore in WI

The Point Beach atomic reactors, north of Two Rivers, WI on the Lake Michigan shore.As reported by Chuck Quirmbach at Wisconsin Public Radio, regarding the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) annual performance review of the two-reactor Point Beach nuclear power plant, owned by NextEra/Florida Power & Light, on the Lake Michigan shore:

In Wisconsin, critics and proponents of nuclear power disagree on whether the state’s sole operating nuclear plant, Point Beach, located north of Two Rivers, meets safety standards to prevent the release of potentially harmful radiation in an emergency.

The precautions that have been put in place at Point Beach may still not ward off threats like bad weather, said Kevin Kamps from the non-profit group Beyond Nuclear.

"It doesn't necessarily take an earthquake and a tsunami to catastrophically wreck a nuclear power plant. In the Great Lakes region, you have ice storms and tornados," Kamps said. "All that you need to have is loss of the electric grid – the primary source of electricity for safety systems at a nuclear power plant – and simultaneous loss of the emergency diesel generators."

If a terrorist got into a nuclear power plant, Kamps said, there's not enough protection of the radioactive waste stored in in-plant pools,

"(In-plant pools) have no robust radiological containment around them. They are simply industrial warehouse-type buildings and are mega-catastrophes waiting to happen," he said.

Kamps advocates taking more spent fuel out of the pools and placing it into concrete and steel casks in fenced-off areas outside the plant.

Beyond Nuclear, along with hundreds of environmental groups across the U.S., representing all 50 states, actually calls for Hardened On-Site Storage of existing irradiated nuclear fuel, and reactor permanent shutdown of atomic reactors ASAP, to stop the generation of any more high-level radioactive waste.

Point Beach Unit 2, and Palisades in Michigan (owned by Entergy) -- on opposite sides of Lake Michigan -- are the two worst embrittled reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) in the U.S. The Great Lakes are the drinking water supply for 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a large number of Native American First Nations. RPV embrittlement increases pressurized thermal shock risks, a pathway to core meltdown.

WI NPR's on air report also mentioned that Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will attend the annual Midwest Renewable Energy Association festival, info. tabling and presenting "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer" workshops alongside John LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin.

Monday
Jun132016

Perpetrator of Orlando massacre worked for G4S, a security firm contracted to guard numerous U.S. nuclear facilities

As reported by USA Today, the perpetrator of the massacre in Orlando, Florida -- Omar Mateen -- had been employed by G4S since 2007.

G4S is connected to nuclear weapons and nuclear power security in the U.S., including at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site, Naval Base Kitsap, Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada [Nuclear Weapons] Test Site, which includes the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dumpsite), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (including its headquaters buildings in Rockville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.), and URENCO USA (Uranium Enrichment Corporation, which operates a uranium enrichment facility in New Mexico). See below.

G4S is headquatered in the U.K. It is the largest private security firm in the world, with more than 600,000 employees working in 110 countries, the USA Today article reports.

The article reports G4S carried out two security checks on Mateen -- when it hired him in 2007, and again in 2013, the same year FBI agents questioned him regarding connections to terrorist groups. Mateen cleared both G4S security screenings, however, and continued working as an armed security guard for the company right up to his massacre of 50 people, and wounding of nearly as many more, at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The article reports that G4S is conducting its own investigation, to determine whether company weapons were used by Mateen in carrying out the massacre. G4S also made the odd statement that Mateen was not on the company clock when he carried out the massacre.

Although Mateen's G4S employment was at a gated retirement community, the company is associated with security at numerous nuclear-related facilities in the U.S.

G4S's -- and U.S. government agencies', including the FBI's -- inability to detect Mateen's violent plans before he carried them out, begs the question: what security breaches may exist at U.S. nuclear facilities guarded by G4S-related companies and personnel?

Tom Clements at Savannah River Site Watch in Columbia, South Carolina, sent out the following email message in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre:

The Orlando shooter has been reported to have worked as a security guard with G4S security company.

G4S provided security at the DOE's Savannah River Site until late 2014 and then the company was taken over by a company named Centerra.

Centerra-SRS <http://sro.srs.gov/centerrasrs.html> appears to have
inherited G4S employees, according to an Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle article -
(http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/business/2014-11-25/srs-security-firm-bought-private-group%23):

"G4S Government Solutions said that there should be no changes to personnel or staffing due to the ownership change."

I have emailed SRS about this and if there will be any security review of Centerra-SRS or personnel.

List of sites where Centerra works:
http://www.centerragroup.com/federal-and-commercial-security.html

Selected Federal and Commercial Security Customers

  • Center for Domestic Preparedness
  • DOD Holston Army Ammunition Plant
  • DOD Lake City Army Ammunition Site
  • DOD Lake City Army Ammunition Site
  • DOD Radford Army Ammunition Plant
  • DOE Savannah River Site
  • DOE Strategic Petroleum Reserve
  • FPS Michigan
  • FPS Minnesota/Wisconsin
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
  • NASA Johnson Space Center
  • NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Naval Base Kitsap (WSB) (security)
  • Nevada National Security Site
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • URENCO USA
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center

Monday
May092016

Bigger guns, bigger problems? How high-powered ammunition could affect nuclear power plants

As reported by Teri Sforza at the Orange County Register, concerns have lingered for well over a decade regarding the potential disastrous impact "friendly fire" could have at nuclear power plants. More powerful weaponry and ammunition allowed after the 9/11 attacks -- including recent significant escalations in the arsenals of nuclear power plant security guard forces -- means the risks to plant safety and cooling systems have increased. A key part of the risk is the lack of adequate training for the security guards so armed.

The article quotes such industry watchdogs as Dave Lochbaum at Union of Concerned Scientists, and Dan Hirsch at UC Santa Cruz.

Regarding the risk of "friendly fire" taking out a vital safety system, Lochbaum explains the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's attitude is that security guard just not miss their intended targets, such as terrorist attackers.

The article quotes Hirsch:

“Over the decades of dealing with the NRC, the pattern has never changed,” he said. “I’ve never seen them ahead of the risk rather than behind it. The NRC sees its job as keeping the burden low on the nuclear industry. This is an exceedingly dangerous mismatch between a captured regulatory agency and an adversary that is nimble, lethal and has absolutely no compunction.”

Thursday
Mar312016

Nuclear Power Plants Are Pre-Deployed Weapons of Mass Destruction

We should close them all. Now.

So begins an article by investigative journalist Karl Grossman published at CommonDreams.

Karl, a Beyond Nuclear board member, reports on the March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in light of the shocking revelations from Belgium that point to ISIS intentions to either acquire dirty bomb radioactive materials, or else attack nuclear power plants directly.

Karl cites the Union of Concerned Scientists' (UCS) analysis on nuclear power plant insecurity, as well as author Bennett Ramberg's warnings about the proposed further spread of nuclear power throughout the volatile Middle East region.

He cites an article by Kyle Rabin regarding 9/11 Commission Report revelations that Al Qaeda considered attacking Entergy's Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City on 9/11/2001.

UCS's Ed Lyman published a report in 2004, "Chernobyl on the Hudson?," warning that a successful terrorist attack at Indian Point could result in up to 44,000 acute radiation poisoning deaths, 518,000 latent cancer fatalities, and one or more trillion (yes, you read that right -- TRILLION with a T!) dollars in property damages.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has cited the impossibility of evacuating the 20 million people who live or work within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point as a top reason for permanently closing the two reactors, which are currently operating on expired licenses, compliments of the complicit U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Tuesday
Mar222016

Belgium 'beefs up security' at nuclear plants

The Tihange nuclear facility last week.Credit Julien Warnand/European Pressphoto AgencyAs reported by Agence France-Presse:

Brussels (AFP) - Belgium security forces tightened security at nuclear plants across the country after deadly attacks in the capital city of Brussels, the Belga news agency said.

"Surveillance is stepped up with added security measures at nuclear plants," the agency reported.

"Vehicles are being checked with police and army on site," the agency added.

In February, investigators probing the Paris attacks found video footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official at the property of a key suspect. (emphasis added)

The New York Times  reported on the February revelation.

And the New York Times reported today that both the Tihange (photo, above) and Doel nuclear power plants in Belgium evacuated all non-essential workers as a security precaution, in the aftermath of the attacks. However, the reactors were allowed to continue operating, rather than shutting down as a security precaution.