Now This Log

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 : "Scary scary"

Apparently a potential next target is our nuclear reactors. Who needs a bomb? This stuff is seriously scary.

This guy suggests this is what will finally get us to seriously look into other energy sources. I suspect this is wishful thinking:

Nuclear Safety by Matt Bivens [The Nation]
A terrorist strike at any such plant could not bring about a nuclear explosion -- but there are a number of scenarios that would spread deadly radiation clouds across, in the NRC's famous phrase, an area the size of Pennsylvania.

...reactor containment buildings were not built with the idea of resisting an intentional assault by a modern-day jet... The literature is actually strangely silent on this point -- so much so that experts interviewed all named the same study, published in 1974 ... about probabilities of a plane accidentally hitting a nuclear reactor. That study concluded that some reactor containment structures had zero chance of sustaining a hit by a "large" plane, defined as more than 6.25 tons. The 767s that hit the trade center weighed 150 tons...

Terrorism also has implications for the Great Waste Debate. Our reactors have for fifty years been piling up vast quantities of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. The question of what to do with it all takes on a new urgency... There is no easy answer -- which may explain such a sluggish and bleary-eyed response to potential terrorism against nuclear targets: the NRC and others are in denial. Not so long ago, they were arguing that terrorism was not a very scientific probability, and that terrorists had a moral impediment against taking life on a mass scale. So much for that. But if terrorism is real, then a clear-eyed view would suggest nuclear power is done for.

... [A]s Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists noted, no one this week is calling his colleagues in the alternative energy sectors to ask about terrorist threats to windmills.

Too many nuclear plants are not prepared to prevent attacks [U.S. News & World Report, written just before the attack]
In the past decade, nearly half the nation's 103 power plants have failed mock terrorist attacks against them.

Starting next week, the Waterford 3 plant, which had boosted security to pass the NRC's terrorist exercise, will begin to reduce its training programs and its guard force. "As soon as the NRC leaves," says one guard, "they downgrade security."

The Nuclear Control Institute has many articles about our management of waste and power plant security ... that's funny, the site was up ten minutes ago... OK, it's back now.

NRC Urges Increased Security [in response to attacks] []

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