Additional Improvements Needed in Physical Security at Nuclear Powerplants: Report to the Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission   [open pdf - 1MB]

Since the middle 1970's, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and powerplant operators have taken measures to reduce the vulnerability of powerplants to attempted acts of sabotage. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 directed NRC to regulate the physical security provided by its nuclear powerplant licensees. The NRC physical security objective for nuclear powerplants is to develop and require implementation of measures designed to prevent, deter, and respond to acts of radiological sabotage. Radiological sabotage is defined as a deliberate act of destruction, damage, or manipulation of vital equipment which could result in the release, beyond the plant boundary, of sufficient radioactive materials to endanger public health and safety due to radiation exposure. Therefore, physical security systems are primarily designed to prevent someone from destroying or tampering with safety-related equipment which could cause a release of radiation that would endanger public health and safety. NRC assures the adequacy of physical security systems at nuclear powerplants through its powerplant licensing and inspection programs. All licensees must have security plans that have been reviewed and approved by NRC headquarters before they can be licensed to operate a nuclear powerplant. After the security plan has been approved, NRC, through its inspection program, determines whether or not the licensee's implementing procedures will fulfill the commitments in the licensee's security plan. Physical security is important because it is another measure, in addition to back-up safety systems, that assures the safe operations of a nuclear powerplant. A physical security system is intended to prevent intentional acts that could lead to the unsafe operation of a powerplant. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the NRC to assure that adequate physical security systems are installed at all operating nuclear powerplants because a serious act of radiological sabotage could have the same effect as a major accident at a nuclear powerplant. The importance of physical security at nuclear powerplants has been further demonstrated by the enactment of legislation that makes acts of sabotage against nuclear powerplants Federal crimes punishable by imprisonment or fines, or both.

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