Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear power plants have long been recognized as potential targets of terrorist attacks, and critics have long questioned the adequacy of the measures required of nuclear plant operators to defend against such attacks. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began a “top-to-bottom” review of its security requirements. On February 25, 2002, the agency issued “interim compensatory security measures” to deal with the “generalized high-level threat environment” that continued to exist, and on January 7, 2003, it issued regulatory orders that tightened nuclear plant access. On April 29, 2003, NRC issued three orders to restrict security officer work hours, establish new security force training and qualification requirements, and increase the “design basis threat” that nuclear facility security personnel must be able to defeat.

Given the bewildering array of potential terrorist targets, there is a clear need for a systematic approach that can (1) classify targets according to attractiveness, vulnerability and consequences; (2) apportion physical security resources in order to achieve a uniform level of protection across the infrastructure; and (3) assess the effectiveness of protective measures against terrorist threats using a consistent methodology.