NEI Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Marvin Fertel just testified before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Here is an overview of what he had to say:
Growing electricity demand and concern over energy security and climate change has led to a resurgence of interest in nuclear energy. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law by President Bush and passed with broad bipartisan support in both branches of Congress, has added to an already increasing interest in the construction of new nuclear plants.Visit NEI's Web site to read the written testimony.
Clearly, the nation’s nuclear power plants are more secure today than they were before the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. America’s commercial nuclear power plants have long been considered the most secure facilities in our nation’s critical infrastructure. Since 2001, the nuclear energy industry has made these facilities even more secure. Over the past four years, the NRC elevated nuclear facility security requirements numerous times by issuing orders and other formal requirements, and the agency is in the process of codifying additional requirements in rulemakings. The industry has invested more than $1.2 billion in security improvements at nuclear plant sites and has increased the number of specially trained, well-armed security forces by more than 60 percent.
Since I last testified before this subcommittee in 2004, the industry has taken these broad actions to enhance security for our workers and our neighbors in the communities in which we operate nuclear power plants:
• implemented NRC-approved security plans for each nuclear power plant
• completed physical security improvements required by the NRC
• conducted hundreds of force-on-force security exercises at 64 plants, including NRC-observed and -supervised force-on-force drills at 24 plant sites
• implementing enhanced security provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, in coordination with the NRC
• completed more than 20 Department of Homeland Security comprehensive reviews of nuclear power plants.
The nuclear energy industry recognizes that the spectrum of possible threats facing a nation can be larger than the design basis threat for a nuclear power plant. The design basis threat (DBT) defines the abilities of a potential attacking force against which the industry’s security strategy must succeed. The industry has been a private-sector leader, working under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, to assess a broader spectrum of threats to the nation’s critical infrastructure. These assessments will help DHS decide how best to allocate federal and state resources to supplement private security forces at each plant site. Security at nuclear power plants provides a solid basis from which this more integrated federal, state, local and private response can be built. When the NRC elevated the DBT for nuclear power plants, it appropriately considered both the threats facing our nation, and the policy, legal and practical limitations on a private entity in facing these threats.
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