Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nuclear Henge: More Stupid Security

This one is just precious. The Dems think that all nuclear power plants should have a plane net around them.
Nuclear power plants will not be required to put up defenses against terrorist attacks from the air, according to a rule enacted Monday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission specifically rejected ordering plants to erect so-called "beamhenge shields" -- steel I-beams and cabling -- that are designed to keep planes from hitting nuclear facilities.

Critics slammed the commission's decision, saying it "jeopardizes the safety of millions."

Isn't that cute. Wonder what the cost of such a "beamhenge shield" would cost. And putting them around over 100 reactors would be interesting.
"Nuclear power plants are inherently robust structures that our studies show provide adequate protection in a hypothetical attack by an airplane," he said in a written statement. "The NRC has also taken actions that require nuclear power plant operators to be able to manage large fires or explosions -- no matter what has caused them."

The NRC says the military and other agencies are able to protect the facility from airborne attacks.

Funny that they seem to have the perspective on where the security should be applied rather than making some ludicrous structure that would likely never be used. Not to mention the containment buildings that already exist are hardened structures for the most part. No doubt there are some older facilities with less than optimal containment buildings, but the requirement for these shields on all facilities is more about politics and less about reality.
A coalition of public interest groups and some members of Congress slammed the decision.

Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said the rule "reflects an inadequate, industry-influenced approach that sacrifices security in favor of corporate profits."

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over the NRC, said that her "initial reaction" to the NRC decision "is that the commission did not follow the direction of Congress to ensure that our nuclear power plants are protected from air or land-based terrorist threats."

"I am reviewing the final rule in detail, and will be prepared to hold the NRC's feet to the fire to ensure that our communities are adequately protected," she said.

Holding the NRC's feet to the fire is a great idea. And while she's at it we should be holding her head to the flames. Idiot.
But critics of the decision say it is far better to prevent an attack than clean up after a nuclear disaster.
Um, yeah. And its far better to place you security dollars where they will stop the most threats. This is more of the nuclear scare mentality with a complete blindness to other more exposed risks. When are they going to require containment buildings for LPG tanks and chemical manufacturing plants? A plane could easily strike one of these with devastating effect and far more actual danger than a plane striking a nuclear power plant's containment building.

And when has it been the strategy to protect things by shields rather than stopping the terrorist from obtaining the weapon? Wouldn't it be a better strategy to put the money that these shields would cost into better control of aircraft? Or using the money for better intelligence and police infrastructure to stop the bad guys before they can act? You would think that these strategies would allow you to prevent more threats than just stopping planes crashing into nuclear power plants.

Not sure what I'm thinking. I'm expecting politicians to actually think about things. God knows they just need action, no matter how much a waste of time and money those actions are.

The LATimes has further information on other parts of the requested security changes:
The nonprofit Committee to Bridge the Gap, based in Santa Cruz, proposed in 2004 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission require atomic power plants to build giant steel cages around reactor buildings to deflect impacts from large commercial planes.

The group further asked the commission to increase to at least 19, from five, the number of attackers each nuclear power plant must be prepared to defend against. The request was based on the number of terrorists who hijacked airliners on Sept. 11.
You really need to go to the Committee to Bridge the Gap's site and view the video narrated by Martin Sheen. It's so absurd I burst out laughing when it started. They must think everyone is an idiot. The cage that they show has beams that must be at least 20 feet thick. The plane crash demonstration shows the plane being stopped by the shield rather than being broken up and passing through the shield. I wasn't able to find any cost estimates on their site as to what they expect such shields to cost, but from their propaganda piece showed I expect they would cost into the tens of millions of dollars at minimum.

The film also is highly deceptive because the narrator describes the planes crashing into the reactor when in fact they are shown striking the reactor containment building.

I can't speak to the land attacks for the number of terrorists changing. I'd have to read the plans, which aren't publicly available. The contention that 19 attackers is substantially different than 5 doesn't necessarily follow. Especially when considering that the security force is in the defensive position. Without more information these contentions are not something that can be analyzed.

And of course, there is another quote about preemptive actions.
"Fire prevention is always better than firefighting," said Michele Boyd, an energy specialist with Public Citizen, a nonprofit Washington watchdog group. "Nuclear terrorism prevention is far more prudent than trying to reduce radiation exposures after the fact."
Yes, and using the money to prevent terrorist from obtaining planes or establishing infrastructure in the country would be even more intelligent. Just because you're an energy specialist doesn't mean you have a clue about security.

No comments: