Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wackenhut and Nuclear Power Plant Security

A little more than an hour ago, Instapundit linked to a story on Facing South dealing with Wackenhut and its work providing security for government nuclear facilities. Also mentioned is the fact that Wackenhut provides security for 31 nuclear power plants, and was employed by NEI to perform what are called "Force on Force" exercises designed to test site security.

The post at Facing South is more or less a carbon copy of the talking points you'll find over at eyeonwackenhut.comm, a Web site operated by the Service Employee International Union which represents security personnel at a number of plants.

One important point: Though Facing South and Instapundit just discovered the SEIU site today, it's been up for quite a while. When it comes to nuclear plant security, I'll just refer to this October 2004 press release we issued when all of the nation's nuclear power plants had met the deadline for enhancing security at every facility:

To meet the NRC's security requirements, the nuclear power plants that provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses have taken the following measures:

· increased the size of their paramilitary security forces by 60 percent to a total of 8,000 officers;

· made substantial physical improvements to provide additional protection against vehicle bombs and other potential terrorist assaults;

· increased training for security officers;

· established a rigorous "force on force" mock adversary exercise regime;

· increased security patrols;

· added more security posts;

· increased vehicle standoff distances;

· tightened access controls; and

· enhanced coordination with state and local law enforcement.
In total, the commercial nuclear industry has spent more than $1.2 billion since 9-11 on security enhancements. If you'd like to investigate the issue further, visit our archive on Safety and Security. Over the Summer, we were pretty active in rebutting many of the charges that were leveled by Time in a feature that ran in June. Click here and here for more information on that.

UPDATE: To deal specifically with the Wackenhut charge, I'll quote from an article that ran in The Hill back in 2004 where our CNO, Marv Fertel was quoted:
The industry has spent $1 billion [now totaling $1.2 billion -- EMc] on security upgrades, including the hiring of an additional 3,000 security officers, said Marvin Fertel, NEI vice president and chief nuclear officer.

"It is anything but business as usual," he said of the industry's efforts to improve security since Sept. 11.

Wackenhut, Fertel said, won the contract because of its extensive security experience.

The company now provides security for 30 of the country's nuclear power plants. An ex-Army Ranger with 10 years’ experience and two special-operations veterans will develop the mock attacks, Fertel said.

Wackenhut's bid offered a "very substantive capability," Fertel said.

To avoid conflict-of-interest concerns, the NEI required that the force attacking a facility where Wackenhut provides security could not include security officers from that plant, Fertel said.
Earlier this year, NRC Chairman Nils Diaz told The Hill:
Diaz defended the decision, explaining that the commission designs, administers and grades the tests. Referring to the commission's oversight of nuclear plants, Diaz said, "We're a pain in the neck."
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