“Nuclear Lessons from 9/11”


Another excellent post on 9/11 and nuclear safety, this time from Dale Klien and Richard Meserve, over at thehill.com.

Klein chaired the Nuclear Regulatory Comission from 2006 to 2009 and was as assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, as well as being the Associate Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

Meserve was chairman of the NRC from 1999 to 2003 and now is president of Carnegie Institution for Science.

Here is a key quote:

Ten years ago the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania prompted a sweeping reappraisal of security at U.S. nuclear energy facilities, led by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. America is fortunate that it has a strong, established regulator for nuclear safety and security….

The September 11 attacks were an unprecedented act of violence on America’s critical infrastructure. It demanded aggressive action to ensure that the nuclear energy facilities that are the source of 20 percent of our nation’s electricity were secure….

After 9/11, the NRC was granted the power to give federal authorization for a shoot-to-kill response to an assault on a nuclear power plant. The agency also expanded the protective shield around nuclear plants by forging closer cooperation with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the U.S. military and the intelligence community. And, most relevant to the safety capabilities presented by Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident, the 9/11 attacks prompted significant upgrades in the capabilities of nuclear plants. This included the addition of diverse and redundant safety equipment to prevent a radiological release….

Our experience after 9/11 was that it is prudent to triple-check safety immediately and correct obvious flaws. But once satisfied with current plant conditions, we should move deliberately to make further changes based on the technical expertise of the NRC staff and of stakeholders….

The entire article is here.

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