WASHINGTON—Spurred by a presidential security directive, representatives of industry and government met last week as part of a newly formed “coordinating council” to further strengthen security and emergency preparedness at the nation’s commercial nuclear facilities.
In the first of a series of council-level strategy meetings that will be held at least quarterly, nine industry representatives met Oct. 13 with a dozen officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.
The industry’s Nuclear Sector Coordinating Council, partnered with the government’s Nuclear Sector Government Coordinating Council, is one of 17 such groups that each will examine a sector of the nation’s critical infrastructure in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7.
U.S. nuclear power plants are widely acknowledged by independent experts as the most secure facilities in the nation’s industrial infrastructure. By the end of this year, in meeting security requirements imposed by the NRC since 2001, the nuclear energy industry will have spent an additional $1 billion in manpower and facility upgrades. The number of security officers at 64 plant sites has risen to 8,000 – a 60 percent increase – and physical improvements at sites include additional protection against vehicle bombs as well as additional protective measures against various types of terrorist threats.
The mission of the coordinating council is to identify and implement ways to enhance security and emergency preparedness around these facilities, or off-site, beyond the exclusive responsibility of a nuclear plant’s security force. Key objectives are to:
Serve as the primary liaison between the commercial nuclear sector and federal agencies concerning security and emergency preparedness issues.
Work with the Department of Homeland Security and the government’s coordinating council to harmonize nuclear facility- and nuclear materials-related threats with characteristics of other threats against the critical infrastructure.
Work with state, local and federal agencies to properly integrate emergency preparedness activities and security responses in the event of an attack at a nuclear facility.
Develop a plan to seamlessly integrate command, control and communication handoffs for an integrated response to an actual terrorist event at a nuclear facility.
Develop and implement a communication strategy for a security event at a commercial nuclear facility including an “unsuccessful” attack on the critical infrastructure.
Industry leaders serving on the coordinating council represent nuclear power plants, university research reactors, fuel fabrication facilities and manufacturers of nuclear components. Michael Wallace, president of Maryland-based Constellation Generation Group, serves as chairman of the Nuclear Sector Coordinating Council.
The industry’s coordinating council will operate with the assistance of the Nuclear Energy Institute, which is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. NEI will function as the secretariat to the council and will provide support to the chairman on policy, issue development, new initiatives, best practices and logistics.
“While there have been constant communications between the industry and government since the September 11 attacks, this first meeting under the formal framework of the coordinating council was useful to foster some new relationships and discuss some of the key areas where government and industry, working collaboratively, need to continue to make progress,” Wallace said.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.