Report: U.S. nuclear plants remain vulnerable to terrorists
Construction on two new nuclear reactors starts at a plant in Vogtle, Georgia in February 2012.
August 15th, 2013
05:16 PM ET

Report: U.S. nuclear plants remain vulnerable to terrorists

By Jamie Crawford

None of the 107 nuclear facilities in the United States are protected against a high-force terrorist attack, and some are still vulnerable to the theft of bomb-grade nuclear fuel, or sabotage intended to cause a nuclear meltdown, a new report says.

The Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas released the report Thursday. It wants to shine a light on the security gaps that still exist more than 10 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"It would be a tragedy if the United States had to look back after such an attack on a nuclear reactor and say that we could have and should have done more to prevent the catastrophe," said Prof. Alan J. Kuperman, co-author of the report.

The study was done at the request of the Defense Department after the Pentagon commissioned an academic study of the security vulnerabilities of the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power reactors and three civilian research reactors.

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Filed under: Nuclear • Terrorism
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. In home personal training

    How is this even possible? None of the 107 nuclear facilities in the United States are protected against a high-force terrorist attack. After all this country has been through, how are we not ready for this?

    April 9, 2014 at 7:57 am | Reply
  2. pletchereak

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    October 31, 2013 at 7:12 am | Reply
  3. Gary

    When does common sense overcome the necessity to divulge information? Why would you publish this information to everyone? I know why don’t you have your next article on the best ways to attack our nuclear plants that should get you better ratings.

    August 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  4. USAPeasant

    If our nuclear power plants aren't safe from terrorism/stealing dangerous materials then....

    #1 Don't advertise this to the entire world!

    #2 Fix the problem by reinforcing the infrastructure, hire news guards, and create better policies for tracking the materials among other things.

    August 19, 2013 at 12:43 am | Reply
    • Dan5404

      Good idea. Now, convince the Republicans to agree to the spending.

      August 19, 2013 at 9:52 am | Reply
      • USAPeasant

        Lol considerring the record breaking spending under the current administration it seems there's no problem with spending money. Check how much money we are giving Egypt and Pakistan for just a tiny fraction of the slice. Lol the Gop & Dem debates are ridiculous, at the end of the day the buddies at the top of both parties only have petty differences and a unified agenda . Considerring top level GOP like McCain talks on and on about nuclear energy this is no doubt a good article to help his clique of the GOP get the Dems on board to fund some repairs.

        Either way the disturbing aspect of the article is why is CNN pointing out some very real vulnerabilities to the whole nation while at the same time the whole demonization of Snowed-in is happening. Surely something like this helps our enemies more than the proof that we're spying on everyone, which everyone kinda all ready knew about for years.

        Time to look past Dem and GOP because that mentality has taken America for a long ride down a dark hole. Just because much of the older members are aligned in a malignant agenda doesn't mean all of our government is. In fact there is a rapidly growing minority of very sensible and pro-American politicians from BOTH aisles. Just get informed about your individual candidates for election, do not vote by Party, vote by weighing the merits and vices of the individual candidates.

        August 20, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  5. HJUIRTYIUI

    MILLIONS OF BRAINS IN SALE.

    August 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  6. Portland tony

    There is nothing ,made or created by humans in the entire world, (that's of importance), that is invulnerable to man's ability to disable or destroy it.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  7. MADMAX911772

    you know what pepole say what you might about obama but please try and remember that a lot of our problems as a nation started the day jeorge the brain less wonder became president and dick the dickles chenny became vise president

    August 17, 2013 at 6:01 am | Reply
  8. Terrence Healy

    Well, thank you for reporting this, if the terrorists did not know it before, you can thank yourself for bringing it to their attention. Good you put some thought into this.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • Jack Hollis

      Come on Terrence, do you ever hear the story of the boy who cried "wolf"? Just when are you going to stop believing those right-wing fear mongers and see things more clearly? There isn't a so-called "terrorist" anywhere near any of those plants, so take it easy.

      August 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
      • Dan5404

        Right, only three older activists that breached the inner security fences at Oak Ridge. Good thing they had no intention of blowing anything up. These people were not even trained terrorists. Great security! But, remember, we can't hire any more federal guards.

        August 19, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Dan5404

      You don't really think the terrorists haven't checked out all of them already, do you. Ayway, Snowden and Manning have already told them.

      August 19, 2013 at 9:59 am | Reply
  9. Pete

    These nuclear plants don't have the security the people want ,they never will..These plants every year have simulated terrorists attacks and are graded by the NRC on their overall response times and how they repel the terrorists..No matter what you do in security someone will come up a more intelligent way to get around it and that's security in a nutshell staying one step ahead of terrorists..I remember after 9/11 how many plants as Fermi,Dresden and others had portable missile launchers at these nuclear plants and how security was stepped up 10 fold because of threats afterward by people who just wanted to scare people from working there or putty people especially security on edge..How after 9/11 Indian Point in NY had stepped up air recon because of news programs had said a possibility of a jet airliner crashing into one of its containment buildings like the Twin Towers but if you know these building like I do working there this wouldn't work because of the way these containment building were constructed being almost impossible to breach by a jet or even a direct hit from a missile that would just make a mark and nothing else if directly hit they're that over built with walls that are designed , constructed to take a hit just like that and survive with minimal damage if any at all...So security has to step up or these plants will be forced by the NRC to be fined, close down because of security lapses just because of budget restrictions and this can't happen anywhere where nuclear fuel is previlent because its the new weapon in terrorists plans today and they know how to use it....

    August 16, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • Russ

      I agree with Pete. . .
      Someone please explain why they think ALL the nuclear plants have or produce bomb grade fuel. Except for dirty bombs, most plants do not have plutonium or bomb grade fuel. The worst radoactive waste we have would kill anybody before they got off the property if they think they will march right in here take hot used fuel. The radiation would kill them shortly after they get into a truck unless they have thorough knowledge of radiation, shielding, and lots of time to load it out properly. I don't see that with a terroist group storming a nuc plant.
      There are plenty of other targets in this country that have far less security and monitoring. Given the probable size of the team and weaponry, why would you take on the organized and trained security team. Its reports like these that spin the public up and the government reacts, followed by additional expense to the power plant which is passed onto the consumer. Use a little common sense with reporting, please!

      August 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        @Russ,people here don't understand the complexity of trying to get on a nuclear power plant in the first place let alone trying to steal spent fuel rods which 99% here have never seen in their lives...2 camera monitored ,guarded fences draped in razor wire to start with armed guards and if you get that far the spent fuel is placed in lead lined concrete caskets that weigh not pounds but tons..And to all you conspiracy theorists your dreams have just been dashed because it'd take an army including heavy equipment to steal any fuel and trust me before any fence was breached the military would be there to stop any further intrusion by said terrorists even to disrupt power hitting their sub stations..Go look one day how close you'll get if you don't work there,not close before a plant guard tells you to scram or else get arrested,your choice!!

        August 18, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  10. CFKArgentina

    0 Americans died this year from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons, the same number that died from terrorism.

    Tobacco kills 443,000 Americans every year but the Tobacco Cartels make sure the media focuses on nuclear energy and terrorism, anything besides the #1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.

    France is #1 in the world in the percentage of electricity it receives from nuclear power. There have been 0 deaths in France from nuclear power.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:20 am | Reply
    • John McKane

      Well posted, CFKArgentina. Too bad that most people are just too ignorant to realize that simple fact!

      August 18, 2013 at 11:27 am | Reply
  11. Mike D

    5 things that resulted in more deaths than terrorism in 2012:

    -Peanut allergy reactions.
    -Bicycle accidents.
    -Allergic Reactions to bee stings.
    -Drownings from recreational swimming.
    -Chocking on food.

    Realistically the states would be safer, if instead of dumping trillions into their military industrial complex, they put it into traffic safety programs, or boating safety, improving infrastructure, crumbling roads and bridges, you name it.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:25 am | Reply
  12. Rebecca

    America's nuclear plants are all past their "sell by" dates. Dates that were promised to shut them down for safety reasons. With nonsense like this, who needs terrorists to cause an accident?

    August 16, 2013 at 12:24 am | Reply
    • Pete

      @Rebecca,at what plant is there closure dates to close them,most plants are past those dates if there is ,right..I've worked at over 30 nuclear plants nationwide as a union welder,valve tech and besides Zion being closed because ComEd wanted it,its the only plant closed that I worked at in over my 30 years of working shutdowns at them...It's more expensive to decommission a nuclear plant than to basicly build one ,did you know that and how long,how many workers it takes to do it...Trust me as long as these plants adhere to the NRC rules and stay up to date on their safety regulations,safe guards and keep everything in working in tip top order they'll stay running whether you like it or not...The only thing that might slow these plants down is a place to dispose of their spent fuel rods which now are changed over every 2 years because of better fuel being used than years ago that's the only catch!!

      August 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  13. sjg916

    Why does the Media publish articles like these? We complain about our Government accessing our information but then spreads our countries weak points for all to see? Our Air Forces Nuclear programs fail inspection and then explains our Nuclear Plants are susceptible to attack...

    August 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  14. George patton

    one way to make them safe, start racial profiling. No Mohammad, Akreem, Bakreem, Wassem, Khan within a mile of these sites.

    August 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • nouse

      What if their name is Timothy Mcveigh?

      August 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  15. George patton

    Do they really or is this just another scare tactic from the right-wing thugs in Washington? There is really no way for these so-called foreign "terrorists" to reach these facilities from abroad unless the C.I.A. somehow enables them to do so. The real problem is that the general public may wise up and the right-wingers in Washington may need something like another 9/11 to offset this scenario.

    August 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Reply
    • CFKArgentina

      Are you calling President Obama a right-wing thug? Or Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence? Or Obama's CIA appointee John O. Brennan? Are you so far out in loony left-field that Lenin and Mao would be right-wingers when compared to you?

      August 16, 2013 at 3:30 am | Reply
      • George patton

        Of course I am, CKFArgentina. If you you don't think that Obama's a right-wing thug, just look at his aggressive policies in the Middle East and Central Asia. His actions speak louder than his Words! Besides, did you notice how Sen. Diane Feinstein hollered for Edward Snowden's head lately? If that doesn't make her a right-wing thug then what will? There are no left-wingers or moderates in Washington these days, none at all!!!

        August 16, 2013 at 8:53 am |
      • George patton

        Of course I am NOT, CKFArgentina, my imposture Phunnie boy is. I fully support Obama administration; just look at Obama's aggressive kick ass policies in the Middle East and in Pakistan. A drone a day keeps the terrorists away !! His actions speak louder than his Words!

        August 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
      • George patton

        Here goes Phunnie boy the Tea Partier again, trying to mimic me. Then again, if this goon above was not a Tea Partier, he wouldn't be supporting the right-wing thug Obama in any way, shape or form!!! As the true George patton here, I stand by my statement that Barack Obama is none other than a right-wing thug along with 90% of Congress!

        August 16, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • George patton

        As the true George patton here, I stand by my modified statement that Barack Obama, both political parties are none other than right-wing thugs along with Congress and 100% Americans killing muslims in ME and South Asia, and my name is Muhammed!

        August 16, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • Jack Hollis

        @the true George patton above. You're quite right. Barack Obama is nothing but a right-wing thug with a large Tea Party following. Unfortunately, he has a blank check to do whatever he feels like, no matter who gets hurt or killed in the Middle East!

        August 16, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
      • Pete

        @Jack Hollis,what facts jack can you bring to the table proving Pres.Obamas a thug and tea party leader..Not only are you delushional like George on most subjects but an idiot as well..If you can't write anything factual or of substance than its better that you as well as George go back to your caves ,again idiots!!And Jack do you know the difference between right,left wing partys ,just asking because the stupid way you throw your big words around!!

        August 18, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  16. Random

    This type of attack is unlikely. At Least until just before we achieve a decisive victory. They stand to give even their own people crazy problems with the fallout from something like that. More likely the attack would be to take over and shut down the systems not to sabotage them. Either is potentially devastating and quick reaction forces should be close by. This is the kind of thing we need to think about before any type of victory could be reached, but at this point it probably not a serious issue.

    August 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply

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