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Why the Daily Caller is Wrong About Nuclear Power Plant Security

Earlier today, Alex Pappas of The Daily Caller published a story concerning security at Exelon's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. The story included video of Pappas driving his car past a deactivated checkpoint and into the plant's parking lot. Since the story was first published, it was subsequently featured on Fox and Friends as well as Special Report with Brett Baier.

We shot a note to Kory Raftery at Calvert Cliffs to get his take on the story:
The fences and checkpoints you see at Calvert Cliffs are only a small part of our defense in depth security strategy. In fact, much of our defense lies in the things you can’t see.

Due to its location and the network of barrier systems in place, perimeter fencing and manned vehicle checkpoints are not required to keep our plant, our workers and our community safe. Manned entrance facilities are not required at many U.S. nuclear facilities and Calvert recently redeployed officers to strengthen its overall security presence.
Simply put, Pappas and his vehicle passed through a gate that was outside the protected area (see below diagram). So while his vehicle wasn't stopped, it wasn't in any sort of position to threaten public health and safety.
The Daily Caller never got inside the plant's protected area.
If Pappas had a question about nuclear power plant security, he should have called us. After all, it was just three years ago when the Daily Caller published an editorial by our CEO, Marv Fertel, concerning security at the nation's nuclear power plants:
Since 2001, the nuclear industry has spent more than $2 billion on security enhancements, including the addition of thousands of highly qualified security officers. This layer upon layer of formidable security includes physical barriers, followed by state-of-the-art detection technology, followed by sophisticated protocols for plant access, followed by added surveillance capabilities, and backed by a protective force of thousands of highly trained, well-armed officers.
Have to wonder out loud why a link to that piece didn't wind up in today's story.

While Pappas might have gotten into the parking lot outside the plant's protected area, there were more than a few people who knew that he was there and were ready to respond if he had posed a threat. Just because he couldn't see those people doesn't mean they weren't on the job. It’s 9/11 week, and some sensationalized click hunting is to be expected, but needlessly frightening folks without more complete reporting is bad journalism, plain and simple.

For more details on nuclear plant security, please visit our website or watch this video.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like they're just trying to cover their a**es. You would think that the filming of a nuclear power plant would, at the very least, arouse suspicion and warrant a traffic stop to investigate. I have no idea how close Pappas got but do remember Timothy McVeigh leveling a 16-block radius with a small truck in OKC. Would a similar style attack have compromised the plant? Shouldn't the filming have at least warranted a stop?
S.A. Kiteman said…
16 block radius? Leveled?? It didn't even "level" the fed office building. How these myths grow with the mis-telling (lies)!
Derek Scott said…
The fact of the matter is this: I work at Nine Mile Point (another Exelon site) and these people were no where near anything of any consequence. This is propaganda "journalism" at its very worst and does a disservice to both the Nuke industry and the public.
Anonymous said…
This entire piece is absolute bogus. More interestingly, the nation would've gotten a clearer picture of nuclear security had he jumped out of his car and started climbing Calvert's fence.
Anonymous said…
Within 500 feet of a nuclear reactor is a safe distance? The video clearly shows they got past an exterior fence line, an interior check point, and to the very far end of an employee parking lot within 500 feet of the reactor. Are you suggesting that this is open to any and all street traffic and the fact they were not stopped is supposed to give us a sense of comfort? If a security vehicle passes up someone in a front seat holding a video camera, why not a shoulder-mounted missile? How can the driver of a security vehicle zipping by an unauthorized car tell the difference? Why can't this industry ever just admit there's a problem? Why pretend like every screwup is not a cause for concern? There would be a lot more trust for the industry if it just dealt with the public with candor rather than treating them like mindless sheeple.
Anonymous said…
When a member of the public is killed or injured by the operation of a nuclear power plant in the U.S., either by accident or a terrorist act, someone please let us know. Thanks.
nicolas hernandez said…
A shoulder mounted missile has got you worried? Hmmm, at my nuclear power plant you would have to go through 4 feet of reinforced concrete (with rebar like the Golden Gate Bridge's support cables), then go through an inner steel liner that is thick as a battleship's hull. That just gets you into the containment building upon which you would have to go through another 15 or so feet of leaded concrete that constitutes our bio shield, then go through 9 inches of steel that is the reactor vessel then get through several layers of 1 centimeter thick reactor vessel internal structures to get to our fuel pins. Even then you would have to get through the zircalloy (basically steel) outer cladding before you get to our uranium dioxide ceramic fuel pellets which are not very flammable considering we heat them to in access of 1000 degrees F. Admittedly you don't have to get to our uranium to do damage. You would only have to break open our containment building, then break open our reactor coolant lines, then destroy all our auxillary and emergency coolant capabilities and kill several hundred folks onsite who could manually set up temp emergency cooling if the installed emergency cooling was destroyed. Basically you would need a small atomic bomb to blow up our reactor or twenty or so bunker busting bombs going off in rapid succesion hitting the same point over and over. Are you still concerned about shoulder fired missile launched from a parking lot that may or may not be 500 feet away?
Kenneth Weidman said…
No ass covering going on at all!!!! Those who don't know are more of a problem than those who allow us to do our jobs without recourse! Until you work in nuclear you have no need to know
Anonymous said…
Safeguards much?
Anonymous said…
Anyone who knows anything about nuclear security or has even worked in a nuclear plant knows the idea that Calvert Cliffs had a lack of security posture because the vehicle wasn't met with an armed assault is ridiculous. They drove into a parking lot- that's it plain and simple. No potential for harm to the plant or public existed and to stir the public up and cycle so many people that have to communicate the actual facts behind this false reporting should be illegal.

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