September 11, 2001 CONTACT: Tom Clements, 202-822-8444, [email protected] Paul
Leventhal, 301-657-8171, [email protected]


The Nuclear Control Institute today called upon the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission to immediately activate an emergency plan that was developed several years ago for
protecting nuclear power plants against terrorist attack when a potential
threat has been identified. NCI President Paul Leventhal today spoke with NRC
Chairman Richard Meserve on the telephone at 9:45 AM to convey the urgent
request. Meserve responded that he and NRC officials were closely monitoring
the crashes of planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, as well as a fire on the Mall in Washington. Meserve acknowledged the
NRC's emergency authority to order the placement of heavy trucks across access
roads to the nation's 104 commerical nuclear reactors and to upgrade guard
forces at the plants. Leventhal asked Meserve if he was implementing the plan.
Meserve responded that he could not discuss on an open telephone line what the
NRC is doing in response to the emergency. At that point, Leventhal urged that
the plan be implemented immediately. NCI has long advocated that the NRC
upgrade protections at nuclear power plants against truck bomb attacks and
other armed assaults. Half the nation's nuclear power plants have failed to
repel NRC-supervised mock terrorist attacks involving only three lightly
armed "attackers." These "force-on-force" exercises have resulted in
the "destruction" of redundant safety systems that would result in severe core
damage leading to a meltdown. In 1994, NRC adopted a truck-bomb rule following
the bombing of the World Trade Center. NRC has resisted demands by NCI and the
Los Angeles-based Committee to Bridge the Gap to upgrade the truck-bomb rule to
establish barriers and set- back distances sufficient to resist the larger
bombs subsequently used against the federal building in Oklahoma City and the
U.S. Marine barracks in Saudi Arabia. The NRC also has acquiesced in nuclear
industry demands to shift responsibility for supervising the mock-terrorist
attack exercises from the NRC to the plant operators in response to industry
complaints that the exercises are too severe and the costs of upgrading
security too costly, given the low probability of an attack.

More information on the terrorist threat against nuclear power plants, including a report in the
current issue of U.S. News and World Report on the vulnerability of plants to
these attacks, is available at

Hosted by