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“Indian Pt. works to meet new security rules” by Roger Witherspoon

At the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, Paul Tudor Jones, one of the nation’s most influential financiers and the chairman of Tudor Investment Corp., said the Indian Point plants posed a security risk and should be shut down within the next five years.

Jones said radiation escaping from the plant following a successful terrorist attack could contaminate the region and “take out the financial capital of the U.S.”

Jones added that the federal government should take over security at Indian Point and that protecting the site from terrorists should be second in priority only to the protection afforded the White House.

Officials at Indian Point have begun an intensive training of its security forces to comply with new federal guidelines intended to ensure the nuclear plants can be defended from terrorist attacks.

The new guidelines imposed Tuesday by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission require increased training, performance and staffing requirements for guards; establish the first fitness-for-duty standards for guards; and lay out a new “design basis threat,” which determines the amount of protection plants need to provide in a post-9/11 environment.

These new guidelines will be used when the regulators begin a new series of “force on force” simulated attacks on Indian Point and other power plants in an effort to test their ability to repel modern terrorists.

Jim Steets, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns the Buchanan plants, said “we hired 40 security guards in the past few months and plan on hiring 50 more. There will be additional training for our security guards to meet the new requirements.”

But many of the guidelines’ key details are being kept secret, as are the results of security tests at each plant. The secrecy has prompted some industry critics to say they have little faith in the effectiveness of the changes.

“NRC commissioners and officials at Entergy have said since 9/11 that their security force was capable of protecting the plants against a terrorist attack,” said David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“If these plants are as safe as the commission says they are, why can’t the commission talk about it?” he said. “If a 767 hitting Indian Point at 500 miles an hour can’t hurt it, how can three guys on the ground hurt it? The information the commissioners and Entergy officials are putting out doesn’t support the assertions they are making.”

The new orders from the NRC come at a time of heightened national attention to the possibility of a terrorist attack on nuclear power plants.

The FBI sent an intelligence bulletin yesterday to law enforcement agencies across the country, warning them to watch for suspicious activities around nuclear power plants, including people spotted taking photographs and aircraft flying near the nuclear facilities.

David Velazquez, the supervisory senior resident agent in charge of the FBI’s White Plains office, said there was no information that suggested the Indian Point nuclear complex could be the specific target of an imminent attack.

“Headquarters puts these out pretty regularly,” he said.

Velazquez did not discuss the contents of the advisory, but added that “there isn’t anything that should imply that there’s anything new. These are more or less telling law enforcement, ‘Don’t let your guard down.’ “

At the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, Paul Tudor Jones, one of the nation’s most influential financiers and the chairman of Tudor Investment Corp., said the Indian Point plants posed a security risk and should be shut down within the next five years.

Jones said radiation escaping from the plant following a successful terrorist attack could contaminate the region and “take out the financial capital of the U.S.”

Jones added that the federal government should take over security at Indian Point and that protecting the site from terrorists should be second in priority only to the protection afforded the White House.

The adequacy of security at Indian Point has been a consistent issue since the terrorist attacks. A year ago, Entergy and state officials publicly announced that Indian Point was the most secure nuclear plant in the nation. But at the same time, Entergy was conducting an internal study of its security staff and found that most believed they could not defend the plant from a terrorist attack.

Among the security changes is a requirement that guards work no more than 48 hours during a normal week, and no more than 60 hours during emergency situations or during biennial refueling. Indian Point guards have been required to work 60 to 72 hours or more for several months, and guards have been fired for refusing to work because they were fatigued. But the new rules will not take effect for 18 months, and may be waived during periods when the nation’s security threat level is increased.”

This article originally appeared in the Journal News

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