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What else aren't we being told?
Mike Ruppert - www.copvcia.com
Details of Nuclear Power Left Open
Photo: A passenger plane flies over Three Mile Island nuclear power
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
WASHINGTON - A study that could serve as a veritable how-to guide
for terrorists interested in waging a nuclear attack on the U.S.
was available to the public until a few hours ago.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission study, which details the catastrophic
effects a jetliner crash could have on a U.S. nuclear reactor,
remained available in spite of evidence dating to 1994 that terrorists
wanted to strike nuclear power plants and continued to be available
after Sept. 11.
The 119-page report was available for public inspection in the NRC
Moreover, the very fact that reactors are vulnerable contradicts
assurances made by nuclear officials in the aftermath of last
Ten days after the attacks, the NRC corrected assertions that
American nuclear power plants could withstand the crash of a
commercial jetliner, and said it could not rule out the possibility
that a suicide hijacker could cause structural damage to a plant
and force the release of some radioactivity.
"Nuclear power plants were not designed to withstand such crashes,"
The 1982 study by the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory
detailed the likely damage that a jetliner at certain speeds could
inflict on the thick concrete containment walls protecting reactors.
Though it addressed only accidental crashes, it included a chart
that identified the speeds at which a jetliner would begin to
transfer its force into the primary containment wall and interior
structure of a nuclear reactor.
And it estimated that if just 1 percent of a jetliner's fuel ignited
after impact it would create an explosion equivalent to 1,000 pounds
of dynamite inside a reactor building already damaged by the impact.
The more fuel, the worse the explosion.
The ignition of fuel "could lead to a rather violent explosion
environment and impose upon the primary containment relatively
severe loads," the report said. The report added that U.S. nuclear
regulators may have underestimated the potential damage from such
The report didn't estimate at what point lethal radiation might be
released in a crash. But it noted, "the breaching of some of the
plant's concrete barriers may often be tantamount to a release of
The report also suggested federal nuclear regulators had underestimated
the potential damage caused by subsequent fire and explosions in
such a crash.
"It appears that fire and explosion hazards have been treated with
much less care than the direct aircraft impact," the report said.
"Therefore the claim that these fire/explosion effects do not
represent a threat to nuclear power plant facilities has not been
An NRC spokesman said Wednesday the agency has removed the document
from its reading room and was also deleting from its public Web
site similarly sensitive materials that could benefit terrorists.
"Clearly we've begun our effort with our Web site which we know is
the vehicle through which one is most easily able to access
information, technical reports and documents. That's our first
priority," spokesman Victor Dricks said.
Dricks said the NRC has "had people working around the clock" to
implement numerous improved security measures since Sept. 11,
including some which specifically address vulnerabilities to suicide
As for why officials hadn't taken such precautions beforehand,
"It was never considered credible that suicidal terrorists would
hijack a large commercial airliner and deliberately crash it into
a nuclear power plant."
The federal whistle-blowers group that discovered the document Oct.
3 in the NRC reading room while researching for a lawsuit said it
was astonished such sensitive information was left public.
Attorney Michael Kohn, general counsel for the National Whistleblower
Center, said that when he was shown the document, he was astonished
that such material was still in the public domain.
"And I still can't believe it," Kohn said.
Kohn's group, which has successfully represented numerous nuclear
plant workers in whistle-blower lawsuits, cited the document in a
lawsuit it is filing this week.
The suit asks the NRC to order immediate security changes at nuclear
plants, including deploying anti-missile weapons and posting armed
guards outside spent fuel storage areas that have lesser security.
U.S. officials have known at least since the mid-1990s that terrorists
wanted to strike a nuclear power plant.
Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade
Center bombing, encouraged followers in 1994 to strike such a plant,
officials say. An FBI agent testified in court that one of Yousef's
followers told him in 1995 of plans to blow up a nuclear plant.
And in 1999, the NRC acknowledged to Congress it received a credible
threat of a terrorist attack against a nuclear power facility.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a frequent NRC critic, said the report
suggests the government should have prepared to guard against a
jetliner crash much earlier, and urged the agency to do so now.
"This document is disturbing because it makes clear the NRC knows
that a nuclear power plant can be successfully attacked by an
aircraft and that information has been public for nearly 20 years,"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Fox News Network, LLC 2001. All rights reserved.