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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

NRC Plans to Change Nuclear Security Strategy

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to change the security strategy at all U.S. nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities to a system based on the risk of an event occurring.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NRC began to conduct mock attacks to determine if existing security measures were adequate to meet the threat of terrorism.

As a result of the review process, the NRC has proposed dropping a security strategy based on the capabilities and characteristics of potential saboteurs, for an approach that focuses on the likelihood of any particular event occurring and the facility's ability to deal with it.

For example, instead of mandating specific distances between controlled areas and uncontrolled areas, new guidelines indicate the maximum dose of radiation allowed to reach an uncontrolled area should a breach of security occur. This standard allows the facility operator to use various "protective strategies" such as physical barriers to prevent security breaches and "denial strategies" to contain the release of radioactive material within the controlled area and under the maximum dosage level, should a security breach occur.

Licensees would be required to evaluate the effects of detonation of land or water vehicle bombs against spent nuclear fuel storage casks, the facility and the holding pool. If the facility does not have a vehicle barrier system to protect spent nuclear fuel when it is moved, the effects of detonation against the facility's alarm stations, security personnel defensive positions, and transfer containers must also be evaluated. Strategies to control radiation releases resulting from an airborne attack also would be required.

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