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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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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.

Friday
Jan152016

"Nuclear Facilities in 20 Countries May Be Easy Targets for Cyberattacks"

As reported by the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Twenty nations with significant atomic stockpiles or nuclear power plants have no government regulations requiring minimal protection of those facilities against cyberattacks, according to a study by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

The findings build on growing concerns that a cyberattack could be the easiest and most effective way to take over a nuclear power plant and sabotage it, or to disable defenses that are used to protect nuclear material from theft. The countries on the list include Argentina, China, Egypt, Israel, Mexico and North Korea.

More.

Friday
Jan152016

"Nuclear commission risks being hacked because of organizational issues: watchdog report"

As reported by the Washington Times:

Computer networks used by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission pose a real possibility of being exploited by hackers as a result of inadequate organization among security personnel, a federal report found this week.

The NRC’s inspector general said in a 18-page assessment released on Tuesday that its Security Operations Center, or SOC, isn’t “optimized to protect the agency’s network in the current cyber threat environment.”

More.