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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
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.

Monday
Jan112016

"'Simple and affordable' drones could be turned into flying bombs that target nuclear power stations...in lone wolf attacks, security experts warn"

As reported by the U.K. Daily Mail:

Simple and affordable drones readily available on the high street [a British phrase, meaning "geared to meet the requireents of, and readily available for purchase by, the general public," or "referring to the typical shops and businesses found on the high street, or main street, of towns"] could be turned into flying bombs by lone wolf ISIS terrorists, security experts have warned.

A report by the Oxford Research Group's Remote Control Project lists a range of British targets which could be struck by the toy drones - including nuclear power stations, a G7 summit or the prime minister's car.

The think-tank warns that terrorists and activists are already using the commercially available devices - which can cost as little as £100 [$145 U.S.] - with the technology of remote control warfare 'impossible to control'. (Emphasis added)

The article goes on:

The report, The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors Against British Targets, claims that drones could 'be used as simple, affordable and effective airborne improvised explosive devices'. 

An assertion in the article must be challenged, however. The article states:

In April 2015, an anti-nuclear activist landed a drone containing radioactive sand on the Japanese prime minister’s office...

However, the individual alleged to have carried out that drone landing is not associated with the Japanese anti-nuclear movement, long serving Japanese anti-nuclear movement activists have pointed out.
The article concludes by quoting Chris Abbott, the lead author of the Remote Control Project/Open Briefing report:
'Drones are a game changer in the wrong hands. The government needs to take this threat seriously and commit to a range of countermeasures that still allow for legitimate commercial and personal use.'

But of course, atomic reactors could be permanently closed, solving the security risk now posed by malicious drone attacks (as well as solving a large number of additional safety, health, and environmental risks inevitably associated with splitting atoms to generate electricity). And high-level radioactive waste storage facilities could also be designed and built with security vulnerabilities in mind -- something that does not currently take place, for the most part.