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Study: NC Nuclear Reactor Vulnerable to Terrorists

11:08 PM, Aug 15, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Credit: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Greensboro - A report conducted by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas in Austin suggests that every commercial nuclear reactor in our country is vulnerable to theft and sabotage.

READ: Report: All 107 Nuclear Reactors Vulnerable to Terrorists

It says 11 are at a higher risk, including the reactor in Brunswick, North Carolina.

WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower asked an expert to review the report. Professor Jason Husser, Elon University, says it's too early to tell if the threats are legitimate.

"It's not necessarily that these authors are incorrect, they may be very legitimate in their research, but this has not gone through a very serious, rigorous peer-review process," explained Professor Jason Husser, Elon University.

This report was written by a research assistant at the NPPP. A professor with the project helped with editing and contributions.

The study reviewed and compared data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. It was funded in part by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
 
"That suggests that this author does have the ear of some people who are paying attention. I would expect that given the amount of attention this has gotten, a number of other people will look into it, but calls for enhanced security like this, papers like this have been around for a long time," explained Husser.
 
The North Carolina reactor this study refers to is the Brunswick Nuclear Plant operated by Duke Energy. Its safety guidelines are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This study suggests some nuclear facilities are not required to protect themselves from terrorists' attacks, airplane attacks or even against attacks by high-powered rifles.

The report admits there is a relatively low probability of a nuclear terrorist attack but says the consequences of such an attack justify their reasoning to increase security.

"Just to say there is potentially a security risk assumes that you actually know how much security is in place. In this case we don't know," explained Husser.

He added, "Anytime you hear words like nuclear threat it's something you really want to pay attention to. So, not saying ignore these things, they may very well be true. They may very well be the case that money needs to be spent in these facilities but it could also be the case that this is an overblown study with an academic with an agenda, we just don't know yet."

To read the entire report, click here.

WFMY News 2

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