Skip to comments.Nuclear Nightmare: As Terror Fears Spike, Power Plant Near Nation’s Capital Sits...
Posted on 09/09/2014 3:41:30 AM PDT by markomalley
About 50 miles outside Washington D.C. is a nuclear power plant that sits on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Its the sort of place the government has warned is vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
But an investigation conducted by The Daily Caller found that anybody can enter the property of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, drive through the front gates, park not far from a nuclear reactor and have no contact of any kind with security.
A reporter and videographer drove from the nations capital last Friday to Calvert Cliffs and twice accessed the power plant site. No one stopped or even seemed to notice them.
TheDC was able to proceed through an unmanned security checkpoint the guard booth was empty and padlocked and, minutes later, enter a parking lot about 550 feet away from one of the plants two nuclear reactors.
On one visit, reporters did not see a single security guard anywhere. On a subsequent visit, a lone marked security car passed by without slowing down or asking questions.
At one point, a large civilian truck roughly of the size of the trucks used in terror bombings around the world, including at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 rolled through the front gates and approached the reactors without being stopped.
TheDC visited Calvert Cliffs after being alerted by someone who recently visited the nuclear facility last month and became concerned about the apparent lack of security.
That facility is the softest target I have ever seen in my life, the visitor recalled.
The Obama administration has oversight of the physical protection of nuclear plants through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose commissioners are appointed by the president. The commission sets security requirements for plants like Calvert Cliffs.
A spokeswoman for the commission on Monday defended the state of security at Calvert Cliffs. Told of the padlocked guardhouse and lack of visible security teams, spokeswoman Diane Screnci responded this way: Based on the security inspections weve conducted on an on-going basis, security at Calvert Cliffs is appropriate to protect the public health and safety.
Kory Raftery, a spokesman for the plants owner, Exelon Corporation, told TheDC that manned checkpoints are not required at all nuclear power plants. He said the corporations nuclear power plants are highly-secure, virtually impenetrable facilities.
The fences and checkpoints you see at Calvert Cliffs are only a small part of our defense in depth security strategy, he said. In fact, much of our defense lies in the things you cant see.
Asked why the plant maintains a checkpoint if no officers work in it, Raftery replied: Nuclear security is always evolving. I cant get into too many details, but redeployment enhanced overall site security, increased safety for our officers and provided more effective use of resources.
Yet according to experts, a visible security presence is vital, because it may deter terrorists from targeting a facility in the first place.
Part of security is to have a visible defense so that it doesnt attract adversaries who might see this kind of weakness to exploit, observes Dr. Edwin Lyman, an expert in nuclear terrorism at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
In an interview Monday, Lyman said that he has heard a number of complaints recently that nuclear power plants around the country lack adequate security.
What I think has happened lately, Lyman said. Is the industry has really let those owner-controlled areas protections just completely erode. And so theyre leaving the checkpoints unmanned all the time and not doing surveillance of the areas so people can enter the owner controlled area without any problem or detection. And I think thats a problem.
The threat against nuclear power plants is real, experts say: the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists initially considered attacking a nuclear power reactor, according to the 9-11 Commission report.
Lyman, the nuclear terrorism expert, said: I think its kind of foolish to allow such lax controls over the owner-controlled area.
Asked about a hypothetical meltdown at Calvert Cliffs, Lyman said the Fukushima disaster showed that a reactor meltdown could warrant evacuations 25 or 35 miles away, and could threaten radiation exposure to people who live 50 miles or more away, which in this case would include the 3.6 million people who live in Washington, D.C. and surrounding suburbs.
A 2013 study, Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack, by a University of Texas professor detailed the risk of deliberate sabotage of nuclear facilities, such as by aircraft attacks, vehicle bombs, anti-tank weapons, or the disabling of pumps by an insider or an intruder facilitated by an insider who disables locks and alarms.
Terrorists may commit radiological sabotage to provoke public fear, showcase their ability to inflict societal harm, or potentially induce an energy crisis in areas dependent on power reactors, concluded the paper, written by Lara Kirkham and Alan J. Kuperman.
There is also a threat that terrorists could sabotage spent fuel pools, which are highly radioactive and usually stored on nuclear plant sites.
Still, the authors say: There have been no recent major attacks against nuclear power plants, leading some to argue that nuclear power plants are low priority targets for terrorists.
Concerns about the security at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant have been raised before. In 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission noted security deficiencies at the plant. (The details were not specifically made public, citing public safety reasons.)
Asked about this, Screnci of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission replied: Calvert Cliffs does not have recurring security issues. As Ive mentioned, we conduct security inspections on an on-going basis.
I recall that as a child our family drove right onto the property ar Peach Bottom Generating Station. Dad had worked in the power industry so was perfectly comfy showing us all the buildings and machinery, even though he had not worked at that plant. It was like the modern equivalent of taking your kid down to the roundhouse and showing him the steam engines.
I sure hope that this article isn’t made readily available to some goat-loving radical Muslim terrorist group!
Yikes, we’d be screwed.
Security Oversight or ‘plausible deniabilty’?
Wouldn't be surprised, if "Bathhouse", wants an attack..either way, he wins:
just the abject fear of an attack..score for "Bathhouse"
attack by terrorists, failed..score by"Bathhouse"
attack by terrorists, successful..score by "Bathhouse"
(why should he care? he's got SS protection)
either way, it's Martial Law time, after engendering such fear of an attack..real or imagined..of course;
the blame shall be on a nebulous foe, "Conservatives"..never a Muslim group, if evidence is found.
Why would terrorists attack a locations so close to their primary enablers?
I have worked in the nuclear power industry for thirty years and for what you say to happen at an operating nuclear power plant is complete crap.
Unless you are badged at that plant you do not get in unless you are escorted by someone trained to escort visitors.
That’s not how the nuke plants are around here.
They still run mirrors under all of the vehicles. Every vehicle gets checked. All the perimeter guards are armed with AR type rifles.
I guess he doesn't get around much.
The most lax security in this nation is rail transportation. Anyone who wants to can go to any railroad crossing in any major city in the US and blow up a few rail cars carrying any number of dangerous chemicals and kill hundreds and cause the evacuation of thousands.
Oil refineries and chemical plants have little more than a single guard at a single access gate and have on site huge quantities of dangerous chemicals.
This author is either totally uniformed on the subject of industrial security or is simply trying to garner attention for himself.
Probably a grant seeker.
fta... Yet according to experts, a visible security presence is vital, because it may deter terrorists from targeting a facility in the first place. Part of security is to have a visible defense so that it doesnt attract adversaries who might see this kind of weakness to exploit,
Same level of security the Obama admin. has refused to employ on the Southern border to prevent terriorists.
The guy is spewing utter crap.
Nuclear power plants are hard targets.
A terrorist will seek an easy target because he is going to give up his life in the process of blowing up that target.
He wants the odds on his side that he will succeed.
A terrorist that tries to take out a nuclear plant has the odds staked against him by a huge margin.
Yes you can drive on to the parking lot at most of the plants but still leaves you far away from the reactor or the real target the control room.
if you google Calvert Cliff you can see pictures of the plant. You will see that the reactor building is a cylindrical building of reinforced concrete designed to withstand a direct hit by a 727 airliner.
A terrorist with a RPG is not going to do any harm to that reactor.
Perhaps the reporter mistook the cooling towers for the reactor.
Or perhaps he is lying.
I certainly hope his report is not accurate.
Why would terrorists attack a locations so close to their primary enablers
So true, IIRC there are two in Texas just a hop skip and jump across the border. And we all know the fond feeling the pResident has for Texas. This is where he would coordinate the attack.
Let the muzzie terrorists try. They WILL fail.
I double dog dare them to step out of that car with guns or try and breech the protected area. The guys in the armorored gun turrets will light em up.
So they went and saw the “Visitor’s Center” I hope they took in the nifty displays there. Did they get into the control room? Did they even make it past the security gate?
What exactly do they think a terrorist would do 500 feet from the reactor building? Launch a rocket propelled grenade? The Reactor building is a few feet of reinforced concrete. The building can withstand a 747 flying into it.
This is kinda like that idiot Jack Anderson when he wrote about the number of Nuke Plant that went “Critical” every year. A little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
I too worked in the nuclear industry for over thirty years and felt the security to be pretty darn good...but, to me they seemed far more concern about a threat from the folks on the inside then one coming from the outside... I always felt they didn't have enough site hardening...sand pits, barricades and such to stop incoming traffic...but, security ain't my bag....so.
And speaking which...how do you suppose the obummer could EVER possibly get a security clearance to work anywhere NEAR nuclear materials.....from his past associations I wouldn't think he could qualify to work at Taco Bell..! And that schmuck has the keys to the end of the world... Scary, ain't it....
I'm sure some would say, he doesn't need a "security clearance", he's the President.!! Maybe that's a mistake on our part...
I think there are a whole bunch of those congress critters that would be totally unable to a REAL job if they had to...something I would truly like to see happen....
Personally I don’t believe ISIS would be stupid enough to make us again the most powerful nation on Earth by destroying Washington, D.C.
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