WASHINGTON—The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has selected Wackenhut Corp. to train and manage elite adversary teams that will be used when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) evaluates nuclear power plants’ security strategies and tactics.
The adversary teams used in these government-required and -evaluated “force on force” exercises will test each nuclear power plant in the nation every three years, increasing the frequency of the evaluated exercises from the eight-year rotation that previously was in place. The exercises are used to identify what steps, if any, nuclear power plant security forces can take to improve their ability to repel attackers.
The nuclear energy industry is the only private sector entity that undergoes such government-required force-on-force exercises. Mock adversary exercises for many years have been one of the ways that the industry and the NRC evaluate nuclear plant security.
The formation of a dedicated adversary force skilled in the tactics that potential attackers might use will further enhance the robust security programs that the industry has in place to protect nuclear power facilities. Nuclear power plants already are widely acknowledged to be the best-defended facilities in the nation’s industrial infrastructure.
Wackenhut is one of the world’s largest and most diversified security organizations. Wackenhut’s Nuclear Services Division provides security services at about one-half of U.S. nuclear power plant sites as well as many nuclear facilities internationally.
“The formation of this adversary team program is one example of how the industry works to achieve excellence and to ensure that all NRC security requirements are met,” said Stephen Floyd, NEI vice president of regulatory affairs.
The Wackenhut contract employees selected for the exercises must meet NRC requirements. The NRC has the authority to determine and ensure that the force-on-force exercises meet the level of attack against which the industry must defend.
The adversary team members will be thoroughly trained and must meet rigorous industry and NRC-mandated physical fitness requirements and weapons proficiency standards, including expertise in the use of state-of-the-art laser-based weaponry.
Beginning in November, the independent adversary teams will participate in approximately 24 NRC-evaluated exercises each year, such that all nuclear power plants receive an exercise over a three-year period. Members of the two adversary teams must commit for at least two years, but serve no more than three.
The industry is taking the initiative to develop separate adversary teams skilled in offensive tactics at the same time that plant security forces – much like reactor operators – enter a new NRC-required training regimen that improves their readiness against potential attack. As part of the new regimen, security forces will conduct mock adversary training exercises regularly, with the expectation that they will train and perform to the same level at which they will be tested during the NRC-evaluated exercises every three years.
Last year, the NRC expanded the design basis threat, which is the scenario against which the industry’s security forces must defend, and increased requirements for security officer training and qualifications and for the conduct of force-on-force exercises.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, additional security measures include extending plant security perimeters, increasing patrols within plant security zones, installing additional physical barriers, and conducting vehicle checks at greater stand-off distances.
Security forces at 64 nuclear power plant sites also have been increased by about one-third to more than 7,000 well-armed, highly trained officers. The industry has enhanced coordination with law enforcement and military authorities, and put in place more restrictive site access controls for personnel. Additional measures have been put in place to provide greater protection against land attacks, including the use of a substantial vehicle bomb, and against water-borne attacks.
In addition to regular NRC inspection of industry security programs at each nuclear power plant, the agency conducts force-on-force exercises to assess and improve, as necessary, the performance of the industry’s security strategy and its implementation.
“Using an adversary team that is trained in attacking a facility will make the force-on-force drills as realistic as possible, and provide the industry with the best possible ongoing training in security,” Floyd 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.