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NRC Decision Leaves US Nuclear Plants Vulnerable to Terrorist Drones

Power News - Published on Fri, 08 Nov 2019

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After a two year review, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has declined to require owners of US nuclear power reactors and some nuclear material processing plants to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. As a result, commercial nuclear facilities will remain unprepared to cope with the additional capabilities that these rapidly evolving technologies could provide to terrorist groups seeking to sabotage nuclear reactors or steal weapon materials, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The decision was disclosed in an unclassified summary document posted on the NRC’s public document server on October 30.

Physicist Edwin Lyman, acting director of the UCS Nuclear Safety Project said that “The NRC’s irresponsible decision ignores the wide spectrum of threats that drones pose to nuclear facilities and is out of step with policies adopted by the Department of Energy and other government agencies. Congress should demand that the NRC require nuclear facility owners to update their security plans to protect against these emerging threats.”

The NRC requires nuclear power reactor owners to protect their facilities against attacks by terrorists assumed to have a defined set of capabilities known as the “design basis threat.” After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C., the NRC considered but ultimately rejected requiring nuclear plants to defend against attacks by jets or other types of aircraft. The NRC argued that protecting nuclear facilities from aircraft is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration and other federal agencies.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 08 Nov 2019
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