A three-month investigation into security issues at our nation’s nuclear power plants found something disturbing at Peach Bottom nuclear facility outside of Philadelphia. Security guards charged with protecting the plant are sleeping on the job. And not just one of them. Several were caught on tape snoozing during their shifts.
CBS 2’s three-month investigation into the security gap yielded some shocking information and video.
The video shows the inside of the nation’s largest nuclear facilities. There are images of security officers responsible for protecting the plant against a terrorist attack, an attack that could kill or injure tens of thousands, including people here in our area.
But instead of being alert and prepared for anything, the officers are asleep and unaware a fellow guard is videotaping these disturbing images shot at different times of the day.
The officers work at Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant just outside of Philadelphia. Although it may seem they’re on break, the reality is they’re all on duty, carrying guns, wearing flak jackets and sitting in what’s called a ready room, which is named that because it’s just steps from the nuclear reactors.
The men and women who work here are supposed to be “at the ready” to protect and defend the facility against a terrorist attack.
Experts say that radiation from a nuclear fire that starts at Peach Bottom would spread and could kill thousands of people as far away as Washington D.C. and New York City. And it could leave 188 square miles uninhabitable.
Should You be worried..?
Nuclear Power facilitites have long been a high value target for terrorists. Here’s a couple of stories you may remember.
A former engineer at the nation’s largest nuclear power plant has been charged with taking computer access codes and software to Iran and using it to download details of plant control rooms and reactors, authorities said.
Mohammad Alavi, who worked at the triple-reactor Palo Verde power plant west of Phoenix, was arrested April 9 at Los Angeles International Airport when he arrived on a flight from Iran, authorities said.
January 30 2002, US intelligence sources warn that terrorists are planning an attack on a U.S. nuclear power plant. They have indications that a truck bomb or airline attack on a nuclear power plant or other U.S. nuclear facility, such as a weapons storage depot, is designed to cause mass casualties and spread deadly radiological debris.
The nation’s biggest commercial nuclear power facility faces a possible terrorist threat, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Thursday.
Abraham told the Senate Armed Services Committee that terrorists may have targeted the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona. He said he couldn’t go into details about intelligence reports concerning the plans that may have included an attack on the plant.
The Washington Times reported Thursday that terrorists have targeted the Arizona plant and security officials are looking for Iraqi government “sleeper cells” that might carry out the attack. The threat to the facility came from sensitive information indicating that the plant was targeted by Middle Eastern terrorists who were not further identified, the report said.
Arizona Homeland Security Director Chuck Blanchard said he’s “heard no evidence of any sleeper cell anywhere in the country.”
A Palo Verde spokesman said he couldn’t comment on any intelligence reports.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a confidential memo to power plants nationwide last week warning of plans for a terrorist attack in which hijackers are to “fly a commercial aircraft into a nuclear power plant.” If fighter jets intervene, the plan calls for terrorists to divert the “mission to any tall building.”
In a memo dated January 23, the NRC said “no specific timeline or location was given for the attack,” but FBI headquarters had sent the warning to all of its field offices. CNN learned of the memo Thursday.
Attack Highly Likely Within Next Five Years
A July 2002 National Resource Council report titled “Making The Nation Safer” states that the potential for 9-11 type attacks on spent nuclear fuel storage at nuclear power plants in the next five is high.
“Nuclear power plants may present a tempting high-visibility target for terrorist attack, and the potential for a September 11-type surprise attack in the near term using U.S. assets such as airplanes appears to be high.