NRC totally unprepared for attack.
December 17, 2001 9:50 AM   Subscribe

NRC totally unprepared for attack. Oops!
posted by zeb vance (5 comments total)
"A typical nuclear power plant contains within its core about 1,000 times the long-lived radioactivity released by the Hiroshima bomb."

hey, thanks a lot. my head is swimming after reading that article, i think i'm going to puke, and i'll probably never have a decent nights sleep again.
posted by sadie01221975 at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2001

Security personnel at power reactors are not required to be prepared for:
  • more than three intruders;
  • more than one team of attackers using coordinated tactics;
  • weapons greater than hand-held automatic weapons;

The same limitations apply to most of our defenses of vital civilian assets in the U.S. When you think about how easy it is to set up a terrorist training camp in this country (at least all kinds of "law-abiding militias" have them), it starts looking like one of the greatest terrorist threats to the U.S. is commando raids planned and executed within the U.S. Assassination of political leaders, takeover of a nuclear plant, long as your operations unfold on the ground, who's going to stop you, the police? The Army, Air Force, and Marines?
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:42 AM on December 17, 2001

The potential for a suicidal ground attack is still a problem, but does anyone see another big jet being hijacked and reaching it's intended target? I don't.

Flight 93 shows what people will do when they know what's going on. If the passengers on the WTC flights had learned of their hijackers' plan, it's doubtful those planes would have ever reached the towers. Now we all know.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:37 PM on December 17, 2001

Don't be so certain, techgno, that this is the end of aerial terrorism. One of the solutions proposed for such incidents is remote landing of planes; and we've seen many unmanned aerial vehicles in the Afghan war. That technology is already pretty close to off-the-shelf, and retrofits won't be outside the reach of a technically-minded set of engineers. Especially right now, in the middle of a recession, there are hundreds of commercial jets sitting on tarmac somewhere that may be bought for a song. Then you don't have to train a pilot who's also suicidal, or steal a plane.

This may not be something we have to worry about right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if the technology is used in a conflict in the next 10-20 years by someone other than a superpower, who doesn't have Geneva convention scruples about targetting civilians. How's that for keeping you up nights?

Anyway, I'm not sure that there's as much to worry about as this article implies. A 767-type explosion may well be more than the design limits of the nuclear containment shell, but such domed, concrete shells are a different kind of structure from either a WTC-style skyscraper or the Pentagon. (The latter is surely a better model, in any case.) Concrete doesn't burn; it protects the steel inside from the heat; and the dome shape will dissipate the shock of impact, just as it dissipates its own weight. This could be an ugly type of incident, but there may well be plenty of time to shut down the reactor, safe the nuclear materials, and fight the fire (with, of course, immediately present fire-fighting capability). Many plants have fail-safe types of cooling systems that would prevent a Chernobyl/Three Miles Island type of situation. Radioactivity could escape, but spread is not guaranteed, and it's very susceptible to a great many variables. This is a significant risk, yes, but it's a lousy way to pull off a terror attack.

That said, there are crazies out there, and the bar for crazy has just been raised.
posted by dhartung at 3:05 PM on December 17, 2001

Well, let's follow Germany's example asap:

Germany passes law to do away with nuclear power

posted by mmarcos at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2001

« Older He does return favors,   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments