Monday, August 19, 2013

Some Final Thoughts on the Nuclear Plant Security Report by Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project

As our readers will recall, we spent a considerable amount of time last week responding to a "study" issued by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project on the security of nuclear energy facilities here in the U.S. Over the weekend, Jim Conca, a blogger for Forbes, took a closer look at the report, and made a number of interesting points (emphasis added in bold):

Those of us who have actually worked within the nuclear complex can tell you this study is grossly flawed. You need only read the limited source materials the author used in making her case and the absence of any references that contradict her thesis. And the lack of any expert review.

But if you read the press on this report, it sounds like it was actually commissioned by the “Office of the Secretary of Defense, which provided financial support for the research”. Inquiries to DoD say the report was not requested by the department. DoD just funds the program as a whole at the University and has no knowledge what’s coming out, until it’s out. We all know how this works.

There was no expert peer review, and the report only represents speculations of the student and her advisor. Even the cartoon on the front page is childish. The authors confuse nuclear weapons with nuclear energy, and have no first-hand knowledge of the security aspects of these facilities, since they have no access to such highly classified information.

But hey, just wing it! What could go wrong?

What’s stranger yet is that UT has an amazing number of nuclear experts, any one of whom could have reviewed this report, if asked. UT even has Dale Klein, former NRC chairman and nuclear security expert at the Pentagon (March 5, 2010 Speech). Why was he purposefully ignored?
One other important point that the media missed: Alan J. Kuperman, the head of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project, isn't a neutral academic. In fact, he used to work for the avowedly anti-nuclear Greenpeace. The reference is included in his online bio.

One wonders why that reference wasn't mentioned during last week's media frenzy.


Atomikrabbit said...

"One wonders why that reference wasn't mentioned during last week's media frenzy"

Isn't NEI supposed to be the industry PR arm, with liaison to media? Why don't you give them a call and ask them?
You can even make it multiple choice:
A) lazy journalism
B) instinctive anti-nuclear bias
C) tilting toward our fossil fuel sponsors who pay the bills
D) all of the above

Let us know what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

This story was covered by the NBC Nightly News, the "Today" Show, Fox News Channel, CNN, Headline News, hundreds of local TV and radio stations, scores of top 100 market newspapers, and so on. The points you raise here do not go to the heart of the report, which says that not enough has been done since 9/11 to protect reactors against certain types of credible threat terrorist acts. That is true. Trying to kill the messenger with smear tactics is not an answer to the substance of the report. Why not just tackle the substance and avoid the cheap personal attacks?

Anonymous said...

Anon, the first two links in this post lead you to pieces that tackle the substance. This post continues to tackle substance as well as the credibility of the authors, not cheap personal attacks.

Substance includes pointing out that DoD did not request this report even though the authors claim it did. Substance includes a lack of peer review even though they had access to a former NRC chairman. And substance includes pointing out that the author used to work for Greenpeace, which dramatically lessens his credibility.

Bill Rodgers said...

@Anon from Aug 20th at 9:13,

Substance is also noting that the authors of this grad student paper did not use actual NRC security references. NRC has worked on transparency to put as much as they can on their website regarding security measures. None of this information was used.

Instead the author chose to use non-proliferation references from academia who have no direct knowledge or experience with plant security upgrades that have been made since 2001. Non-proliferation groups have an anti-nuclear agenda that was given a boost up due to this poorly researched paper.

Anonymous said...

"Non-proliferation groups have an anti-nuclear agenda"

Is that something of an overgeneralization? Or do you truly believe that all non-proliferation groups are anti-nuclear?

Daniel Ashmore said...


Monty Lyons said...

Thats really good...

Marcella Fitzgerald said...