Issue Date: February 18, 2008
Research Reactors Need More Security
The Government Accountability Office has reported several security problems at research nuclear reactors regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The GAO report (GAO-08-403) concludes that four research reactors operated by the Department of Energy have adequate, updated security plans, but the 33 under NRC are operating under security plans unchanged since before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Among other problems, GAO said, NRC has not adequately considered how much damage might be done in the event of a terrorist attack, does not have adequate evacuation plans, and does not require full background checks on all persons having unescorted access to the research reactor. In its response, NRC disagrees with most of the issues raised in the report. NRC argues that the GAO parameters for security are unrealistic and that the NRC regulations are fine for the research reactors.
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