WASHINGTON—Nuclear power plants across the U.S. met the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) deadline today for submitting revised security plans that outline steps that the industry has taken or is taking to meet new NRC requirements.
These changes are part of an additional $1 billion worth of security-specific expenditures in capital improvements and manpower that the nuclear energy industry will have spent by the end of this year in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Of this total, about one-half already has been spent, and the remainder will be spent by this fall as nuclear power plants implement the security plans submitted to the NRC this week.
The industry had the most secure facilities in the country’s critical industrial infrastructure before the Sept. 11 attacks. Implementing new industry-initiated security measures as well as meeting several NRC-required security enhancements makes nuclear energy facilities even more secure.
The security enhancements that will be implemented by Oct. 29 are in three key areas:
the physical security plan that encompasses large barriers, state-of-the-art detection equipment and other protective systems to deter, detect and impede intruders;
the training and qualification plan that governs the training requirements for the industry’s 7,000-plus paramilitary security officers; and
the plan to address security contingencies.
“The nuclear energy industry has always taken plant security very seriously. Our goal is to provide the highest level of protection achievable by a commercial facility. We will continue to coordinate closely with state and federal law enforcement and military authorities to ensure that an integrated response strategy is in place to protect these
important assets that supply electricity to one of every five homes and businesses in the nation,” said Marvin Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s chief nuclear officer. NEI has in place several security task forces comprised of security experts who meet regularly as a group and with the NRC.
Under the NRC’s security requirements issued in April 2003, nuclear power plants had until today to notify the agency of changes being made to comply with the requirements. Companies that operate nuclear power plants have until Oct. 29 to complete implementation of the changes, many of which already have been made. As part of the requirements, the NRC has significantly upgraded the threat scenario against which the industry’s security forces must defend.
During the year since Security Order EA-03-086 was issued, industry and agency officials have been working to ensure that there is full and shared understanding of the agency’s expectations and the ways that NRC resident inspectors based at plants throughout the country will interpret the requirements in the order.
Nuclear power plants are the best-defended industrial facilities in the country, and numerous independent evaluations by security experts, think tanks and news outlets have acknowledged the robustness of their security. 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.
In addition, security forces at 64 nuclear power plant sites 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 inspection of industry security programs by the NRC at each plant, the agency conducts force-on-force exercises to assess and improve, as necessary, the performance of the industry’s security teams. The nuclear energy industry is the only private sector that undergoes such federal government force-on-force exercises, and each plant will participate in an NRC-observed exercise at least once every three years. In all cases, the industry has met the NRC’s current security requirements for performance-based testing during these force-on-force exercises.
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.