[ RadSafe ] Nuclear plant info available to public

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 28 09:45:51 CST 2006


Nuclear plant info available to public
Western Australia mulls ban on nuclear power plants
Dwindling forests and resources force Africa to mull nuclear energy 
Russian oligarch's London office sealed in spy radiation probe
More radiation turning up in London

Nuclear plant info available to public
NBC News investigation finds sensitive documents in libraries
WASHINGTON - What if an airplane were to crash into a nuclear plant? 
How long would it take terrorists to penetrate security barriers 
outside nuclear facilities? What are the most vulnerable parts of a 
nuclear plant to attack in order to inflict maximum damage?

The answers to all those questions, and many more, are available to 
the public, as NBC News discovered in a recent hidden-camera 
investigation. Accessing that very information - along with thousands 
of other sensitive documents from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
(NRC) - is as easy as walking into a public library, finding the 
right files, printing them out and walking out with the documents in 
hand, no questions asked. 

Many of the documents we were able to access were among the thousands 
of files the NRC pulled from its Web site after 9/11, deemed too 
sensitive to be available to the public. But that same effort to 
clean out sensitive information, it seems, was never made with NRC´s 
document collections in public libraries across the country. 

Former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, who also served as co-chairman of 
the 9/11 commission, calls this inconsistency "appalling."

"What this means is that we've given the terrorists an easy map in 
order to find out about our nuclear facilities," says Kean. "It's the 
worst possible thing we could be doing."

E-mails and letters obtained by NBC News show that after 9/11, the 
NRC did, in fact, compile a list of sensitive documents to be pulled 
from public collections. But in early 2002, the agency made the 
decision not to pull the information, so the request, and that list, 
were never passed on to libraries. The documents were never removed.

In fact, we were able to obtain documents from that very list at all 
four libraries we visited, and federal investigators were able to 
find sensitive security documents at all 25 libraries they visited. 
For security reasons, NBC News is not revealing the location of the 
libraries or the exact content of the documents. 

In a statement to NBC News, the NRC says it is aware of a "limited 
amount" of sensitive information that continues to exist in the 
public domain, but that "the usefulness of this information is 
minimal given its age and subsequent changes to and improvements in 
security programs and physical modifications that have been made to 
nuclear facilities" since 9/11. The agency wishes "to assure the 
public that information directly related to the security programs and 
protection of nuclear power plants is not in the public domain."

But Dave Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of 
Concerned Scientists, insists the information in the public 
collections is "very explicit, very detailed, and would be very 
useful to the terrorists planning out such an attack."

Lochbaum was recently able to buy an entire set of NRC´s document 
collection from a public library. 

"Many of those records were pulled by the NRC from the main 
collection because of their value to terrorists," says Lochbaum. "Yet 
here they were in the collection we obtained."

Among the files he found in his new collection: the same documents 
the NRC removed from its Web site, including a 1982 report that 
details the catastrophic impact a plane crash could have if it hit at 
just the right point at a nuclear plant. 

"That document, in pretty explicit detail, explains what the 
vulnerable parts of a plant are in terms of aircraft impact, so that 
would then become the targets for the pilot or the terrorist at the 
controls of an aircraft," says Lochbaum. "That´s what he'd aim for."

A prominent congressman agrees. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., the 
ranking member of the House Committee on Science, recently wrote a 
letter to the NRC that describes the availability of all the 
sensitive nuclear data as "particularly troubling."

Gordon writes, "It is baffling to me that the NRC would consider this 
information so sensitive that it should be pulled from its on-line 
database, yet apparently the information was considered safe enough 
to be left in more than 80 public libraries scattered throughout the 

Gordon continues: "In my mind, the information can't be both a 
security threat and, simultaneously, of no consequence; a policy that 
treats the same materials in two different ways is simply muddled."

The NRC also claims that the limited accessibility of the documents 
was part of its decision to leave the information in the public 
realm. But Kean believes a difficult process is not necessarily 
sufficient deterrent to anyone determined to carry out a terror 

"What we learned in the 9/11 investigation was that these terrorists 
are smart, they're determined, they're willing to work as hard as 
necessary, they do their research, and they practice," says Kean. 
"These are people who prepare very, very, very carefully. And so, if 
it's available and there's a way they can get it, they will."

Western Australia mulls ban on nuclear power plants

Western Australia is considering laws banning a nuclear power 
industry in the state.

Premier Alan Carpenter made the announcement on Tuesday in the wake 
of a similar move by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie.
Queensland says it plans to pass laws banning the building of nuclear 
facilities within its borders.

And if John Howard's government decides to go ahead anyway, voters 
will be asked in a statewide poll whether they support a nuclear 

Mr Carpenter said WA already had laws banning the importing, 
transporting and storage of nuclear waste.

"However given the Howard government's commitment to establishing a 
nuclear industry in Australia, I think it is now time to go one step 
further and explicitly ban the construction of nuclear power plants 
and uranium enrichment in our state," Mr Carpenter said.

He said the federal government had signalled an intention to use 
commonwealth powers to ride roughshod over the states on this issue.

"Like Mr Beattie, I also think a referendum on the issue would be 

Mr Carpenter said WA would be watching the passage of the Queensland 
legislation with interest.

Dwindling forests and resources force Africa to mull nuclear energy 

CAPE TOWN (AFP) - Depleting forests and coal reserves, compounded by 
the environmental cost of traditional energy sources, are forcing 
Africa to seriously consider going nuclear, experts say. 
"For the sake of humanity and the environment we should accept 
nature's gift," South African energy analyst Andrew Kenny told a 
conference in Cape Town of scientists, businessmen, energy watchdogs 
and African government officials.

But some warn that a lack of financing, a regulatory void and a 
dearth of specialist skills could impede Africa's participation in 
the "nuclear renaissance".

"There are good reasons for certain African countries to be 
considering nuclear energy, but this does not mean they will be able 
to do it overnight," Alan McDonald from the Vienna-based        
International Atomic Energy Agency told AFP Tuesday.

Franklin Osaisai, director-general of Nigeria's atomic energy 
commission, said Africa simply had to find the money for nuclear 

"It is not affordable not to invest in energy. We found nuclear to be 
a viable option -- an expensive initial investment but cheaper in the 
long-term," he said.

Nigeria planned to start generating nuclear power in the next 10 to 
12 years, Osaisai said.

Several delegates mooted regional cooperation as a possible solution 
to many of the constraints facing the continent.

These included harnessing South Africa's existing regulatory 
framework and sharing infrastructure between countries.

But McDonald said Africa did not feature strongly in IAEA projections 
for increased nuclear energy production.

"Most of the additional plants being foreseen are in countries with 
established programmes and existing, big plants. It is much easier to 
start a new plant when you have an established programme ... and a 
skilled workforce."

The construction cost of a nuclear power plant averages about one 
million euros per megawatt it produces.

Nuclear energy was "definitely" an affordable option for Africa, said 
Anne Renzi, deputy head of export finance at Areva, a global nuclear 
energy company.

"It is a question of comparison. Each time the barrel price of petrol 
is more than 45 dollars, any nuclear project is competitive," she 

South Africa's Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said Africa should tap 
its rich uranium resources rather than exporting them, adding that 
this would need "deliberate and calculated planning on the part of 
leaders of the continent."

South Africa is the only African country with a nuclear power 
station, which produces about six percent of its electricity. It now 
wants to expand capacity by developing a pebble bed modular reactor.

Several speakers told the conference that nuclear energy was a safe 

Kenny said there had only been one nuclear accident claiming more 
than five human lives, as opposed to 187 such accidents at coal-based 
power plants. 

He also said radiation was not a major problem in countries 
harnessing nuclear energy while coal, wood and paraffin fires caused 
death, disease and disability on a massive scale in Africa.

Russian oligarch's London office sealed in spy radiation probe

LONDON (AFP) - Police investigating the poisoning death of former spy 
Alexander Litvinenko have sealed off the London office of exiled 
Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky after finding traces of 
Scotland Yard said traces of polonium 210 -- which were found in 
Litvinenko's urine -- were detected at two separate offices in the 
upmarket Mayfair area of central London.

The new finds followed the discovery of the same substance at a sushi 
bar and hotel which were visited by Litvinenko on November 1 before 
he fell ill. Traces were also found at the former Russian secret 
serviceman's north London home.

Litvinenko's friend and spokesman Alex Goldfarb confirmed that one 
set of offices belonged to Berezovsky, a harsh critic of Moscow who 
is wanted in his homeland on fraud charges.

"I have been to that office many times. Mr Litvinenko did and 
everyone who was friends with Mr. Berezovsky because that's his 
principal place of business in London," he said.

Berezovsky, an associate of Litvinenko who visited him in hospital on 
a number of occasions, was not immediately available for comment.

The second office address was a security company called Erinys. The 
company said Litvinenko had visited on a matter "totally unrelated to 
issues now being investigated by the police".

"In the light of recent events, the company immediately contacted the 
police to tell them of his visit," it said in a statement. None of 
the company's staff has suffered any ill effects.

More than 500 people rang a special helpline at the weekend concerned 
they may have been contaminated. Of those, three were sent for 
radiological tests as a precautionary measure.

Home Secretary John Reid told parliament Monday there was "no need 
for public alarm".

Public health body the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has also sought 
to allay concern, pointing out that the kind of alpha radiation 
involved can only travel tiny distances, so the risk of contamination 
is minimal.

But Britain is taking the matter seriously. The government's top 
level COBRA security committee -- which includes Reid, senior police 
chiefs and the heads of British intelligence -- has met on a number 
of occasions.

A coroner's inquest into Litvinenko's death is due to formally open 
on Thursday.

Litvinenko himself, his friends and supporters have claimed that he 
was the victim of a Soviet-style assassination because of his fierce 
criticisms of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Berezovsky said last week: "He (Litvinenko) personally thinks that it 
was organised in Moscow and Putin gave the order to poison him 
because he is former KGB."

Moscow has repeatedly denied the charges and the issue is 
increasingly threatening to strain relations between Britain and 

The government has requested the help of its Russian counterparts but 
is keen not to strain bilateral relations.

More radiation turning up in London

LONDON, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- British investigators have found traces of 
radiation at two more London locations, one of them at the offices of 
exiled Russian oil tycoon Boris Berezovsky. 

The second site where polonium 210, a rare radioactive element, was 
found was at the offices of the private Erinys security firm, which 
guards oil installations, The Telegraph reported Tuesday. 

Polonium 210 is believed to be responsible for the death last 
Thursday of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. Before he died, 
Litvinenko claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his 
death because of what he knew about the Russian government's takeover 
of the $42 billion Yukos oil company. 

Meanwhile, police in London would not reveal what led them to test 
the two sites Monday where more radiation was found. 

"We are still trying to piece together Litvinenko's movements, who he 
met and where," a source told the Telegraph.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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