NPPP report finds U.S. nuclear reactors susceptible to terrorism

A report released by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project on Thursday detailed how the 107 nuclear reactors in the U.S. are susceptible to terrorist attacks.

In a report titled "Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current 'Design Basis Threat' Approach" the NPPP found that none of the 104 commercial nuclear plants are protected against credible terrorist attacks. The NPPP was concerned that some plants are vulnerable to attacks by sea but are not required to defend against this threat.

"More than 10 years have come and gone since the events of September 2001, and America's civilian nuclear facilities remain unprotected against a terrorist attack of that scale," Professor Alan J. Kuperman, the coordinator of NPPP, said. "Instead, our civilian reactors prepare only against a much smaller-scale attack, known as the 'design basis threat,' while the government fails to provide supplementary protection against a realistic 9/11-type attack. 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."

The NPPP also reported that some government operated nuclear facilities are protected against most, if not all, of the threats. Other government owned facilities are not up to these standards, however.

The NPPP recommended in its reports that the U.S. government should require a level of protection on all potentially high-consequence nuclear targets.