The 62 nuclear power stations in the United States are protected by roughly 9,000 “extremely well-armed and highly trained security officers,” the Nuclear Energy Institute said Aug. 15.
“This is an increase of approximately 60 percent in the size of nuclear plant security forces since 9/11. These forces, a large percentage from military and law enforcement backgrounds, are drilled and tested regularly to ensure their readiness,” the NEI said in a blog posted on its website.
The nuclear industry trade organization issued the blog as a counterpoint to a report also released Aug. 15 by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin’s Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project. The Texas study said, while security has improved, additional hardening is needed at domestic nuclear sites.
“Finally, a report like the NPPP’s today also fails to acknowledge that the very type of terrorist attack alleged as vulnerability necessarily represents an enemy of the state incursion within our country. It isn’t the obligation of any electric utility to defend against that; that’s a job for the highest levels of federal national security,” NEI said.
The NEI blog was unique because it marked a rare occasion when the nuclear industry actually cited figures for nuclear security forces at the U.S. fleet.
The NEI said that NRC holds nuclear power plants to the highest security standards of any U.S. industry. “Force on force” exercises that use dedicated teams of mock adversaries are also held regularly.
Each plant site conducts quarterly and annual drills for each security team and undergoes an NRC-evaluated “force on force” exercise once every three years, NEI said. Nuclear plant safety and security issues are also coordinated with federal, state and low law enforcement, NEI said.
In the NEI blog, the industry group said that every commercial nuclear reactor in the country has done an aircraft impact assessment. The NEI also seemed to dismiss the University of Texas report as “allegations of lax security lobbed by academics versus the time-tested, ongoing assessments of this nation’s top-ranking security professionals.”
The coordinator of the nuclear research project at the University of Texas said the non-classified report was done at the request of the Defense Department.
The full NEI blog can be found at: http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-fresh-perspective-on-nuclear-plant.html.