Nuclear plants are the most secure industrial facilities in the United States. After Sept. 11, the nuclear energy industry substantially enhanced security at nuclear plants—already the most secure facilities in the U.S. industrial infrastructure. Security forces at nuclear plants were increased by one-third to approximately 8,000 officers at 103 plants located at 64 sites. Additional security measures include:
extending and fortifying security perimeters;
increasing patrols within security zones;
installing new barriers to protect against vehicle bombs;
installing additional high-tech surveillance equipment;
strengthening coordination of security efforts with local, state and federal agencies to integrate approaches among the entities.
The industry and NRC have been vigilant in responding to the heightened threat level since Sept. 11. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has twice significantly increased the security requirements for nuclear power plants. Nuclear plant security forces are able to defend against a greater number of attackers, armed with more weapons than ever before. In February 2002, the NRC formalized many of the security enhancements that the industry had implemented since Sept. 11. The NRC has enhanced its requirements to further restrict access at nuclear plants. In April 2003, the NRC issued new orders that limit the hours security personnel may work each week. At the same time, the NRC increased the training requirements for security guards, including that for weapons proficiency.
The nuclear energy industry has made a significant commitment to post-Sept 11 security enhancements. All commercial nuclear power plants met the NRC's Oct. 29, 2004 deadline for implementing more stringent security measures mandated by a series of NRC security orders. Overall, the industry has spent an additional $1.2 billion in security-related improvements since September 2001.
The nuclear energy industry took the initiative to form a nuclear security counsel under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to improve off-site coordination. To address security in a broader context, the nuclear energy industry formally requested, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved, the formation in 2004 of the Nuclear Sector Coordinating Council, the first to be formed of 17 such infrastructure sector councils composed of industry executives and government officials. The council will advise DHS on security and emergency preparedness coordination that extends beyond plant property—and beyond the regulatory responsibility of a nuclear plant’s security force.