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Overview: Nuclear Plant Sabotage

The NRC and the nuclear industry often boast that nuclear power plants are the most heavily protected parts of privately-owned infrastructure in the United States. This assertion seems obvious to anyone who understands the risks of sabotage at a nuclear power plant. The risk of contamination and fallout from an attack on a nuclear plant is clearly higher than the threat from other energy generation systems like wind farms or solar panels.

UCS engaged the NRC on less-than-adequate nuclear plant security before 09/11. UCS met with the NRC in public meetings on an almost monthly basis in 1999, 2000, and 2001 about proposed upgrades to security regulations and their implementation.

Sadly, the NRC used 09/11 as an excuse to jettison the public from virtually all of its security policy conversations. The NRC and the nuclear industry worked behind closed doors on steps to better protect Americans from sabotage at nuclear power plants.

While the NRC steadfastly refused to consider public input, UCS found that the U.S. Congress still listened. Since 09/11, UCS testified numerous times to Congress in open, public meetings about steps needed to adequately protect nuclear power plants. UCS hopes that the NRC—by choice or by force—soon readmits the public into its security policy discussions.

Nuclear power plants cannot be made invulnerable to sabotage. If a nuclear plant is someday sabotaged, there should not be a long list of things that could have been done to prevent it; things that are then done at the surviving nuclear plants to protect against another attack. Those steps must be taken now to guard against the first attack.

 

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