The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved a final rule that enhances its security regulations governing the design basis threat (DBT) – the latest in a series of actions addressing security at nuclear power plants. This rule, the first of several planned rules related to security, imposes generic security requirements similar to those previously imposed on operating nuclear power plants by the Commission’s April 29, 2003, DBT Orders. The new rule modifies and enhances the DBT based on experience and insights gained by the Commission during implementation of the Orders, and extensive consideration of the 12 factors specified in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.For more information on this ruling from NRC, click here for an FAQ. Again, please check the section on Safety and Security that we maintain on NEI's Web site for more background information.
Today’s final rule describes the design basis threat. This rule provides a general description of the attributes of potential adversaries who might attempt to commit radiological sabotage or theft or diversion against which licensees’ physical protection systems must defend with high assurance. Although the guidance documents related to this rule are protected from public disclosure for security reasons, the final rule provides a general description of the modes of attack, weaponry and capabilities and intentions of the adversary. For example, the final rule contains provisions related to multiple, coordinated groups of attackers, suicide attacks and cyber threats.
Over the next 24 hours, we're going to see a lot of reporting concerning protection against an attack by large aircraft. Again, from the NRC statement:
The rule does not incorporate the “beamhenge” concept proposed in 2004 in a Petition for Rulemaking by the Committee to Bridge the Gap and does not require protection against a deliberate hit by a large aircraft. The NRC has already required its licensees to take steps to mitigate the effects of large fires and explosions from any type of initiating event. The active protection against airborne threats is addressed by other federal organizations, including the military. In addition, the NRC remains an active partner with other federal and state/local authorities in constant surveillance of the threat environment and will adjust regulatory actions or requirements if necessary.Back in 2002, EPRI issued a study that found that aircraft impact would not breach structures housing reactor fuel. For a copy of the study, click here. For a previous post on this topic from November 206, click here.
UPDATE: Reports from CBS News and The Blotter. Please feel free to stop by and leave comments. As always, please be respectful. One point that's getting lost in the fine print: The Commission approved the plan by a vote of 5-0.
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