Skip to main content

Fighting Back With Online Video

Back in January, we told you about a ridiculous video created by Greenpeace U.K. of an airliner crashing into a seaside nuclear power plant while a terrified family looks on (watch it here). More recently, I discovered a video by the Committee to Bridge the Gap on the same topic narrated by noted corporate security expert, Martin Sheen (he's like a bad penny).

Both videos leverage services from an online service called YouTube, a Web site that allows members to upload video for free. In turn, the videos can either be viewed over at YouTube, or alternately, embedded in your own Website inside a video player (we used it here). It's a great service, and one that NEI's members ought to be using to get their message out to a wider audience.

So, in the interest of equal time, NEI recently uploaded our own nuclear security video over at a competing service, Google Video. Watch it right now:

And while our narrator isn't a television actor, we like to think he's a little better informed. We've got about 10 other videos uploaded, and we'll be featuring them all in the ensuing weeks and months. And if you have an industry-related video you'd like to share, send it my way, and we'll feature it at NEI Nuclear Notes.

POSTSCRIPT: One last item: Both YouTube and Google Video are great tools, and we intend to use them both. You should too.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , Committee to Bridge the Gap,


Rod Adams said…
Thank you for sharing the video.

It tells an important story, but it might not be too reassuring to certain members of the population.

The question "If it takes so much effort to protect the plants, is it worth it?' will certainly be asked, especially in the financial community.

The increased cost of the additional security measures also adds just one more disadvantage for nuclear power in a competitive energy market. The notion that nuclear plants require large buffer areas will make it very difficult to build any new university research reactors, something that is going to be necessary if the industry is to expand as currently predicted.

In many ways it appears to me that the industry has allowed the opposition to set the agenda.

Though I do not expect much agreement on this point, please think about the direct financial reward that a "terrorist threat" against nuclear plants provides to oil producers and then think about the source of funding for certain terrorist organizations.

The threat does not even have to be real - all it takes is producing some scraps of paper and leaving them behind in a strategically selected cave in a forsaken corner of the world. Game theory is often better understood by strategists outside of the United States.

As the video stated, nuclear plants were already some of the least vulnerable installations in the country BEFORE we spent an additional billion dollars on increased security measures and added a rather significant on-going annual cost through the increased guard force. I do not want to take anything away from the professionalism of the force, but once hired it will be difficult to reduce its size anytime in the future.

I would have preferred for those people to have found good jobs in construction and operation of new nuclear plants. The training received in those jobs is productive rather than defensive and is extensible to a lot of other production enterprises.
Mike said…
Why won't NEI use deaths and injury from each form of energy in their marketing? Nuclear always comes out the best in these comparisons. These stats have been around for years (e.g., Bernie Cohen)
gunter said…
another working lunch break and a not even a very entertaining video..

Why would you say that it is the opposition that sets the agenda and not legitimate security concerns?

Is Congressman Christopher Shay (R/CT) "opposition" just because he has security concerns arising out of the continued cozy relationship of the Commission and NEI's business as usual?

Again, this NEI promotional ad still fails to come to grips reality---the Design Basis Threat (past, present and proposed)maintains, exercises and evaluates site security forces to repel or hold off a small fraction of an adversary force already successfully mobilized on September 11th (19 highly trained, knowledgable and suicidal men in four coordinated teams).

Why is that? Do you think it is unrealistic or overly speculative to contemplate that an adversary bent on causing mass causualities, large population dislocations and extreme long-term economic dislocation would contemplate attacking a nuclear facility with a force as large or larger than September 11th?

Then again, they came by hijacked aircraft and no such provisions to repel or protect against such an attack are currently considered at nuclear facilities.

With regard to NEI's trivalization of this continued vulnerability to aircraft attack, even taking 100%effectiveness credit with sky marshalls, cockpit door fortifications and increased passenger screening at airports for protection of commercial passenger aircraft, the revised DBT (supposedly upgraded) still doesn't account for expolsive laden private aircraft or general aviation aircraft that can be used for attacking nuclear power stations. Site Emergency Actuation Levels do not contemplate a 30 minute warning of the approach of such aircraft, so I dont take any comfort that an armed air cavalary will arrive in time.

There is also the water borne attack and if you look around most nuclear power stations you will also not see even at minimum marine exclusion devices protecting cooling intake structures as are now typically deployed around anchored US naval war vessels. What are you thinking?

You guys should stop blaming a growing number of messengers and get with the message.

For example consider that the State of New Jersey's Bureau of Nuclear Engineering in the Department of Environmentl Protection is appealing a licensing board denial of its contention regarding the vulnerability of the GE Mark I elevated storage pond in the Oyster Creek license renewal application. Its actually a very good legal brief. These folks are not "antinuclear extremists" as NEI so often likes to label critics in attempts to avoid answering the hard questions.

Does the industry and NRC have to be dragged into federal court before heeding engineering analyses showing that a private aircraft carrying even a modest amount of high explosive in shaped charges directed into a Mark I reactor building and its sitting duck in a pond of 500 metric tons of high level nuclear waste at 100 feet above grade could take out much of the the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard?

geez, back to work,
Paul, NIRS
Paul Primavera said…
I am very sorry, but I must tell it as I see it. This statement in the post above is a lie: "...a private aircraft carrying even a modest amount of high explosive in shaped charges directed into a Mark I reactor building and its sitting duck in a pond of 500 metric tons of high level nuclear waste at 100 feet above grade could take out much of the the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard"

I repeat: the statement is a LIE.

Additionally, constantly raising the red flag saying "attack here, attack here" is suspect behavior.

The chemical plants off I-95 in NJ near NYC are far more vulnerable, and they have NO containment structure. An impact from any aircraft, explosive laden or not, would be devastating to people in NYC. That's the REAL danger, not nuclear power plants.
Paul Primavera said…
Please let me explain why I said the statement cited above is a lie: no accident, induced by terrorists or otherwise, at a US commercial nuclear power plant can "take out much of the the Mid-Atlantic Seaboard". That is the lie to which I refer. One might say out of kindness that it is an exaggeration, or that literary license is being taken with word useage. No, my friends, that is not the intent of anti-nuclear propaganda. That being said, I do NOT accuse Mr. Gunter of being a liar. I merely point out that whether knowingly or ignorantly a lie (i.e., a falsehood) is being promulgated. If I offend anyone, including Mr. Gunter, then please accept my sincere apologies.
Rod Adams said…

I am confident that the security forces at nuclear power plants can succeed against a force of 19 (or 190, or even 1900) coordinated, trained, motivated people armed with box cutters. Any attempt that they would make would certainly qualify as suicidal.

Chris Nord said…
The National Academies of Science weighed in on this issue in 2005: “Spent fuel storage facilities cannot be dismissed as targets for [terrorist] attacks…” (“Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report”, Finding 2A) “The committee finds that, under some conditions, a terrorist attack that partially or completely drained a spent fuel pool could lead to a propagating zirconium cladding fire and the release of large quantities of radioactive materials to the environment.” (Finding 3B)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission apparently disagrees with Paul Primavera about the potential scope of such a disaster. The 1997 done for NRC study estimated the consequences of a spent fuel fire resulting in the release of 8-80 million curies of Cesium-137 (sadly, this is not unrealistic, since IP has more than 90 MCi of Cs-137). The consequences included 54,000 – 143,000 extra cancer deaths, and economic costs due to evacuation of $117-566 billion. Perhaps that is not a grand enough scale to get the industry’s attention, but common citizens in reactor communities everywhere have certainly caught on to their vulnerability. And if the industry doesn’t take this seriously, that should help to explain your credibility problem with more and more of the public.
Paul Primavera, are you aware of how bizarre it seems that you call Mr. Gunter’s critique of defensibility of reactors “suspect” – and then in the very next paragraph you are pointing the finger at the vulnerability of chemical plants close to NY? Should we take that to mean you should be entered on the “watch list” you are implying for Gunter, or does that mean that the atomic power industry knows it cannot take much scrutiny?
General Electric’s own engineers tried to sound the alarm about their BWR jalopies light years ago, and citizen litigants like Wells Eddleman (Shearon Harris) tried to herd the NRC (futile effort) toward expanding the Design Basis Threat to include terrorists and large airplanes – in the 1980’s! Now the industry and its ‘regulator’ sit in the mess they have made for us all: overfull reactor fuel pools at BWR’s up in the air, with a containment no better than those chemical plants you pointed to, and I’m afraid denial is the best recipe for disaster. Perhaps you all could try an alternative: take the criticism that is going to increasingly be focused on your mess, and do something positive with it instead of trying to shoot the messenger. We are all trying to keep our families safe.
Think: Hardened On-Site Storage. Take the jalopies off-line. For your great grandchildren’s sake.
C Nord said…
Post Script: Mr. Gunter, did you in fact mean that terrorists would only attempt a reactor takeover with box cutters?! 20000 jihadis brandishing utility knives: perhaps the industry could defend against such an attack.
Paul Primavera said…
Chris Nord,

Why didn't you also provide the NRC response to the NAS Report:

Letter from Chairman Nils J. Diaz to Senator Pete V. Domenici providing a status of NRC activities related to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the safety and security of commercial spent nuclear fuel storage.
< >

Read PDF pages 25 and 26 (actual attachment pages 16 and 17)

Then read:

Fact Sheet on NRC Review of Paper on Reducing Hazards From Stored Spent Nuclear Fuel
< >

The figures you used came from the Robert Alvarez report which on closer examination has been rebutted. Read the sections of this fact sheet entitled:

No Justification for Postulated Probabilities of Worst-Case Spent Fuel Pool Damage

Overestimation of Radiation Release


Paul Primavera said…
Here is what NRC Commissioner McGaffigan said about SFP vulnerability at the April 17, 2003 RIC:

< >

"As you will see from the transcripts of public Commission meetings, I am clearly frustrated that we have not said more thus far, particularly when it comes to the vulnerability of spent fuel pools to terrorist attacks. There is a lot of bad information being spread about the alleged vulnerability of spent fuel pools, and this has been going on for more than a year. Unfortunately, in some cases, previous NRC staff or contractor studies, which themselves either have errors, or made non-physical simplifying assumptions, are misused to make extraordinary claims about spent fuel pool vulnerabilities. The worst of these NRC staff studies was NUREG-1738, a study which the staff released in January 2001, but which the Commission never endorsed because of our deep misgivings about it. Indeed we asked for public comments on NUREG-1738, held a public meeting on it in February 2001 at which various groups asked that it be peer-reviewed because of its obvious flaws, but never decided that question because the paper which would have been the vehicle for that decision was withdrawn by the staff after the events of September 11. 2001. I can tell you I would have voted for a peer review and that our current more realistic research on spent fuel vulnerability does not support that study. As Chairman Diaz said yesterday in response to a question, terrorists can't violate the laws of physics, but researchers can. Even they can't do it for long."

And as NRC Chairman Diaz said previously at that same conference:

< >

"It may very well be that we have been conditioned by so many decades of Hollywood disaster epics that the line between fiction and reality has been blurred. It is certainly true that in the television news business, which is what many Americans depend on for information, the division between hard news and entertainment has eroded over time. Whatever the cause may be, it seems all too often that where nuclear issues are concerned, we see a tendency to hype up what might otherwise be a humdrum story with a whiff of impending danger, or danger narrowly averted. Media hype contributes to public anxiety; public anxiety itself becomes a topic of media coverage; and public worries snowball -- 'and there you go again,' as President Reagan would say. I think it is appropriate for all of us -- not only the media, but those of us who tend to get quoted in the media on nuclear issues -- to weigh our words, and make sure that we are neither underplaying nor overplaying the actual risks to the public."

"As far as the dangers posed by terrorism, I would observe that even terrorists cannot change the laws of physics. They would also confront the robust American infrastructure and the American system of protecting our civilians, and believe me, no one does it better."
Paul Primavera said…
I wrote the following text last year when the anti-nuclear activists were all up in arms about GAO 05-339. It bears being reprinted here:

In all the recent discussion on the NAS Report and GAO 05-339 about the supposed vulnerabilities of spent fuel pools at commercial nuclear power plants, I have to wonder why anti-nuclear activists (e.g., UCS, NECNP, Riverkeeper, Unplug Salem, et al.) ignore GAO-05-327 on protection of our nation's "4,000 chemical manufacturing facilities that produce, use, or store more than threshold amounts of chemicals that EPA has estimated pose the greatest risk to human health and the environment". The interested reader may find this report at:


Perhaps they have forgotten that a very small and unintentional chemical leak at a Union Carbide chemical plant at Bhopal in December of 1984 killed 4000 people outright and injured 400000 for life (the likelihood of something even remotely similar from a spent fuel pool incident is vanishingly remote):

The fact of the matter is that no industrial, commercial, residential or private facility is completely safe from terrorism. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

That being the case, on what therefore should we spend our limited resources for national protection against terrorism? Should it be the 103 operating nuclear power plants which already have a robust security system under existing regulation? See NRC web page:

And NEI web page:

Or should it be the relatively unprotected 4000 chemical plants, a terrorist attack against any of which may feasibly reproduce the Bhopal India disaster at several orders of magnitude?

Perhaps our ‘loyal opposition’ should review what NRC Chairman Diaz said about Realistic Conservatism at the following web pages:


The unbiased reader may also want to review the following US NRC article entitled "Fact Sheet on NRC Review of Paper on Reducing Hazards From Stored Spent Nuclear Fuel" at:

And the NRC’s response to GAO 05-339 on spent fuel pool vulnerability at:

And the NRC’s response to the NAS Report on spent fuel pool vulnerability at:

And the NRC’s response to a previous GAO Report on Homeland Security Challenges at:

I hope that the unbiased reader will find the time to read and study these articles. Whatever the interested reader may think about government administrators, Chairman Diaz is correct when he patiently explains that being overly conservative in safety analyses and security provisions wastes vital limited resources and is as injurious to national security and nuclear power plant safety as being under-conservative. I suspect, however, that regardless of whatever measures the US NRC has taken or will take, these (sadly) will forever remain insufficient to those who can only point out problems but steadfastly refuse to be a part of the solution.
Gunter said…

No offense taken Mr. Primavera.

The facts increasingly speak for themselves and we shall see what is exposed as the lie. I have always understood that one lie begats a thousand lies to mean that the lie much harder to conceal. Let us reveal the truth together.

Mr. Nord has eloquently expressed the concerns of the National Academy of Sciences April 2005 report. Either Mr. Primavera has not read the version of the National Academy of Sciences redacted for the public in its April 2005 report or has chosen to selectively forget some of its most alarming contents.

Perhaps, there are those who would just as soon dismiss the Academy as liars, too. That would be far more convenient than facing up to the Academy analysis that an zirconium fuel fire would inflict tens of thousands of cancer fatalities extending out hundreds of miles. I would call that pretty much of the Mid Atlantic seaboard. Did you overlook that part of the report, Mr. Primavera et al?

Perhaps it would be easier and much less expensive to simply round up the Academy authors for some extended resort time at Gitmo?

To ignore this continued vulnerability, particularly from the 24 GE BWR Mark Is, is in my mind even beyond the pale of "suspect behavior."

What would make that all the more clear would be the revelation that as in the example of the Davis-Besse vessel head corrosion debacle, this "turning a blind eye" approach to safety and security regulation by NRC is the product of pre-mediated lobbying efforts to suppress a realistic DBT to keep nuclear power profits up and safety/security capital costs down.

Now would that be treachery--- motiviated by an allegience instead to international corporate profits at the expense of the health, safety and security of the American people?

"A subtle traitor needs no sophister."

Shakespeare, King Henry the Sixth,5.i.191
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

J. E. Dyer, Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, has addressed your concerns in a letter of November 7, 2005 to a certain Ms. Deb Katz of the Citizens Awareness Network. Since this letter references you by name, I am certain that you are well aware of its contents. In case it may have slipped by you, you may find it in the NRC ADAMS Library ( as Accession Number ML051960343.

I truly like your Shakespeare quote:

"A subtle traitor needs no sophister".

Some might say (perhaps wrongly) that those who would seek to emasculate US energy independence by using the scare tactics of terrorists are themselves terrorists and traitors. I of course think them simply misguided.
gunter said…
Mr. Primavera,

Yes, I am well aware of Mr. Dyer's dismissal of our emergency enforcement petition on the vulnerability of the Mark I elevated spent fuel storage pools, it is consistent with the Commission's blanket dismissal of the NAS study.

If in fact the NRC is a culprit in this instance along with NEI that decision was no surprise, only a matter of clarification for the record.

Don't forget to add the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General to your list of so-called perpetrators of "scare tactics of terrorists."
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

The NJ Attorney General is as much a politician as the current NY Attorney General, Eliott Spitzer:

These politicians (usually from the left wing, but sadly the right wing has its fair share of lunatics, fanatics, and ingratiating fools, too) are hardly statesmen; rather, they will curry whatever favor they can from those who have the loudest mouths because this garners them the most publicity. This is simply another example of politics as usual.

Again, I truly think your quote from Shakespeare couldn’t be more appropriate:

"A subtle traitor needs no sophister".

I commend you on your astute observation.

That being said, just because Mr. Dyer of the NRC gave an answer you don’t like, but the flawed NAS study gave an answer that is agreeable to your preconceived notions does not mean that Mr. Dyer is incorrect. Rather, the NRC dismissed your contention simply because it was dismissible. Raising panic and terror over a hypothetical, improbable science fiction event is wrong.

Now as I pointed out before, the real danger lies in an aircraft crash into any of the chemical plants along I-95 in NJ. Just think about the horrific consequences that would result. Should we then shutdown the chemical industry and abandon our modern technological way of life over fear? Or should we recognize that emasculating our strength is the very goal of the terrorists themselves, and however unwittingly this goal is supported by the eco-fringe element of society who claims that its motives are altruistic. Altruistic for whom? Nature? Or Man? Nuclear provides safety and prosperity for both. And it is that very safety, security and energy independence from petroleum in lands of Islamic fascism that terrorists (as well as so-called environmentalists) fear the most.
Jim Hopf said…
gunter writes:

"...zirconium fuel fire would inflict tens of thousands of cancer fatalities extending out hundreds of miles. I would call that pretty much of the Mid Atlantic seaboard."

So, using that same definition, I suppose you could say that the Midwest's coal plants "wipe out the entire Atlantic seaboard" every single year, year in and year out.

Paul P. is right when he refers to analyses that make multiple, successive assumptions that are extremely conservative and/or unrealistic, which results in conclusions that are completely out of touch with reality. I perform nuclear analyses, so I'm very familiar with this issue. And, as Paul points out (with various quotes from NRC officials), everyone involved understands this quite well.

It's these sort of analyses that predict tens of thousands of eventual cancer deaths (as well as hundreds to thousands of acute exposure deaths) despite the fact that:

1) Chernobyl released orders of magnitude more radioactivity than any Western plant would under any circumstances.

2) There was no evacuation or emergency response for days after the event (a far cry from what would happen here).

3) Despite all that, Chernobyl produced no acute exposure fatalities among the public, and the eventual cancer deaths are between ~100 and 4000, depending on who you ask (i.e., LNT or no LNT).

The Chernobyl experience clearly shows that these "analyses" are deeply flawed, and that even a worst-case event at a US plant would have very limited consequences, both in terms of casualties and affected land area.

In terms of the pool study, it is absolutely clear that the "studies" in question make unrealistic assumptions at every step, including overestimation of the likelihood that a zirconium fire will even occur, a drastic overestimation of the fraction of the radioactivity inventory released from the fuel (in dispersible form), and overestimation of its transport through the environment and the amount of publuc exposure, and finally an (LNT) overestimate of the effects of low-level radiation.

The fact is that it is overwhelmingly likely that not a single pool would actually suffer a zirconium fire if it were drained (even forgetting the fact that repsonders would prevent any such fire anyway, simply by spraying water on it). It is also clear that even in a worst-case (but realistic) pool event, no significant amount of land area would have dose rates outside the range of natural background (a range within which no health effects have ever actually been seen).

Gunter % Co. also misread the NAS report. The report stated that the likelihood of a significant pool release is very low. They merely recommended some relatively inexpensive steps (e.g., fuel reshuffling and automated pool sprinklers) that they felt were justified despite the low risk due to their low cost.

They also requested more rigorous analyses of the pools at a few specific plants. They also actually complained about the fact that the thermal analyses that predicted the possibility of zirconium fires were too simplistic and overly conservative (they actually said this, just as me an Paul are saying above). They merely wanted to see a more rigorous analysis, which would probably show that the fire is not even possible.

As far as the older BWRs, the fact is that even with all of these considerations, the overall risk to public health and the environment from these plants is far less than that of any fossil fuel plant. On top of that, the plant is already built (avoiding construction cost of a new plant), it has a very low going-forward operating cost, and it emits no CO2. Keeping existing nukes, even these old BWRs, is a no-brainer from both an economic and environmental perspective.

C Nord referred to the industry's "mess", in his post. That's just it, there is no mess. Nuclear is the one large-scale power source that had never emitted any meaningful pollution, and has never killed a member of the public or had any measurable effect on public health. Anti-nukes are in the increasingly untenable position of explaining why they oppose an energy source without having any tangible reasons or justifications for doing so. Meanwhile, fossil sources that are several orders of magnitude more harmful just keep going about their business, with no complaint from them.
Rod Adams said…
Paul and Jim - good job in taking on the detailed arguments and pointing out the many ways in which the nuclear industry is held to a different and much higher standard than the fossil fuel industry.

This is one more opportunity for me to point out that many so called "environmental groups" receive a large portion of their funds from foundations and individuals with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Investing in fights against nuclear power has been an extremely profitable investment for those supporters.

Of course, I am not saying that the Nuclear Information and Resource Service is one of those groups since I have no idea where their funding comes from. They choose not to put such information on their web site.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot., the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.

From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…