Saturday, September 22, 2007

WHAT? NRC's Feels 9-11 tragedy not a threat to NUKE PLANTS NRC: Airplane crash not nuke-plant concern
NRC: Airplane crash not nuke-plant concern
U.S. nuclear regulators approved a new rule to protect plants from terrorist attacks, though anti-nuclear groups say it should have included airplane crashes.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Monday a final rule for security governing the design basis threat on U.S. nuclear plants.
"This rule is an important piece, but only one piece, of a broader effort to enhance nuclear power plant security," said Dale Klein, chairman of the NRC. "Overall we are taking a multi-faceted approach to security enhancements in this post 9/11 threat environment, and looking at how best to secure existing nuclear power plants and how to incorporate security enhancements into design features of new reactors that may be built in coming years."
The ruling, which the NRC says is the first of many, creates security criteria for new nuclear plants. Future rules may enhance security assessment requirements for new reactors and physical protection of reactors.
But groups have urged the NRC to use the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a model for protecting plants. They criticized the NRC for not requiring protection of a large ground force or large aircraft attack.
"Rather than requiring measures to prevent a plane crash from damaging vulnerable parts of a nuclear plant, which would be the smartest course, the government is relying on post-crash measures and evacuation plans to attempt to 'mitigate' the public's exposure to radiation," Michelle Boyd, legislative director of Public Citizen's energy program, said in a statement.
"Nuclear terrorism prevention is far more prudent than trying to reduce radiation exposures after the fact," she added.
An NRC statement said the commission rejected a "beamhenge" approach -- using steal beams and cables to prevent a plane from reaching a reactor -- and said the ruling "does not require protection against a deliberate hit by a large aircraft."
"The NRC has already required its licensees to take steps to mitigate the effects of large fires and explosions from any type of initiating event. The active protection against airborne threats is addressed by other federal organizations, including the military."

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