WASHINGTON—The coordinators of a two-day national security simulation that featured former congressional and retired military leaders and other former government officials today called nuclear power plants “probably our best defended” industrial facilities against a terrorist attack on the nation’s critical infrastructure.
The nuclear energy industry “is an industry that has taken security pretty seriously for a long, long time,” said John Hamre, president and chief executive officer of one of the nation’s most prominent public policy research organizations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
At a news conference today, CSIS detailed the lessons learned from a national security simulation exercise conducted Oct. 17-18 in the Washington area. The “Silent Vector” exercise simulated the pre-attack phase of a credible threat to the U.S. critical industrial infrastructure. In the scenario, former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, acting as president of the United States, met with his National Security Council at Camp David to respond to an imprecise but highly credible warning of an attack that would take place within the next 48 hours.
“You’ve got to find some way to organize your uncertainty” and effectively deploy limited resources, Hamre said.
Nuclear power plants were among a list of seven facilities identified as potential targets, including chemical plants, dams, liquefied petroleum gas, petroleum terminals and pipelines. The means of potential attack were air, ground and sea.
In addition to describing nuclear power plants as “probably our best defended targets,” Hamre singled out nuclear power plants for their established communications channels with federal, state and local officials.
Hamre’s comments echo favorable assessments of nuclear security that have come from an array of security experts over the past year. For example, James Kallstrom, Adviser to New York Gov. George Pataki on Homeland Security, last December described the Indian Point nuclear power station as “an extremely safe place” and announced that an FBI assessment found security at the facility to be “robust.”
The nuclear power plants that provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses are protected by robust steel and concrete structures designed to resist catastrophes and protect the reactor fuel. In addition, more than 6,000 expertly trained paramilitary security forces maintain high levels of security against terrorism around the clock. State-of-the-art electronic surveillance and sensor technology assist these armed forces.
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.