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Nuclear Facilities as Vulnerable as Ever to Terrorist Threats

August 20th 2013

Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear facilities throughout the United States continue to provide inadequate security measures against possible terrorist attacks and threats, especially unauthorized access to -- and removal of --weapons-grade material as well as measures to prevent acts of sabotage that can cause devastating and catastrophic nuclear reactor meltdowns, according to a report released Monday by a Washington, D.C., watchdog group that investigates and exposes government corruption and malfeasance.

According to Judicial Watch's "Corruption Chronicles," the costly and divisive 9/11 Commission revealed years ago that the al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked the commercial airliners considered crashing at least one of the planes into a nuclear power plant in the New York metropolitan area. "The report explains that Mohamed Atta, who piloted one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center considered targeting a nuclear facility he had seen during familiarization flights near New York,” states Monday's disturbing release.

"Logic would indicate that nuclear facilities need to be protected because they’re on the radar of Islamic terrorists. Incredibly, the U.S. government has not taken this credible threat seriously and doesn’t require adequate security for the nation’s 107 reactors," stated Judicial Watch officials.

Most of the U.S. nuclear facilities are defenseless when it comes to certain kinds of terrorist attack strategies, according to a study by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas which was conducted for officials at the Pentagon. Ironically, the Pentagon was one of the targets of the shocking Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks.

According to Judicial Watch's synopsis of the report:
The most vulnerable facilities are in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Get this; the Maryland plant, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), sits in Gaithersburg just 25 miles from the nation’s capital and houses bomb-grade uranium. The other unprotected facilities that deal with bomb-grade uranium are at the University of Missouri in Columbia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Some of the nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attacks from the sea, but they too are not required to protect against those threats, the study found. Those facilities include Diablo Canyon in California, St. Lucie in Florida, Brunswick in North Carolina, Surry in Virginia, Indian Point in New York, Millstone in Connecticut, Pilgrim in Massachusetts, and the South Texas Project.

“It would be a tragedy if the United States had to look back after such an attack on a nuclear reactor and say that we could have and should have done more to prevent the catastrophe,” said Alan J. Kuperman, the coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project. “We know where the weak spots are when it comes to nuclear facilities, so it would be the height of irresponsibility to fail to take action now.”

In a report from media-watchdog Accuracy in Media (written by Jim Kouri), the Department of Energy -- the agency that overseas security and safety at nuclear facilities throughout the U.S. -- was not aware that 31 of the 205 facilities inspected did not have a safety program that meets the requirements established in 2001.

"While the Energy Department uses its authority to enforce nuclear safety requirements, its actions have not reduced the occurrence of over one-third of the most commonly reported violations in the last 3 years, although this is a priority. These shortcomings are largely attributable to DOE’s decision that some responsibilities and resources... more appropriately reside in the program offices," according to AIM's March 15, 2011 report.

According to police and intelligence expert Mike Snopes, "The DOE is too busy with cockamamie Obama clean-energy pipe dreams rather than protecting Americans from the very real terrorism threat to nuclear facilities." "It's been 12-years since the most horrifying terrorist attack in U.S. history and yet our most vulnerable structures remain vulnerable," said Snopes.

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