NRC Pulls Its Web Site in Wake of Sept. 11 Attacks

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Nuclear Nonproliferation NRC Pulls Its Web Site in Wake of Sept. 11 Attacks

By Erik Olsen

Oct. 12 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today confirmed it pulled its Web site from public access, saying it had previously been making available sensitive information that could be used in a terrorist attack on U.S. nuclear plants.

A spokesman for the NRC said that prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency had made freely available via its Web site extensive materials on NRC operations, including the geo-spatial coordinates of all 103 operating nuclear plants in the country as well as "thousands and thousands of highly technical documents that go back decades." Geo-spatial coordinates are the specific longitude and latitude coordinates that satellites can use to pinpoint the exact location of an object. "Prior to Sept. 11, we provided a wealth of information in an effort to keep the public informed about policy decisions," said Victor Dricks, an NRC spokesman. "Obviously, we are looking at it all in a new light."

Technical Details Made Available

The technical information that had been available on the Web site until it was shut down Thursday included books containing detailed information about all the country's nuclear plants, including photographs of various sections of plants and components, aerial photos, engineering schematics, and detailed descriptions of safety systems.

Asked whether someone might make use of this information for terrorist purposes, Dricks replied that it was possible. Asked why a more thorough review of these materials had not occurred before Sept. 11, Dricks said he didn't know.

Dricks would not go into greater specifics about the types of technical documents that had been taken down, but said that they had previously been deemed nonsensitive.

He would not say when NRC officials thought the site would be back up.

Government Guidelines Issued

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has issued guidelines asking all government agencies to reassess what information they are providing to the public and to remove anything that might be of use to terrorists.

The effort has drawn criticism from some public interest groups that maintain the public has the right to information that may benefit citizens concerned about the safety of industrial or government activities in their communities.

Not all agencies have reacted by removing information from public view. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, for example, said that he knows of no information that's been pulled. Among the material on the FAA site is a running list of airports that have met the FAA's current, stringent safety requirements.

http://printerfriendly.abcnews.com/printerfriendly/Print?fetchFromGLUE=true&GLUEService=ABCNewsCom

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 12, 2001

Answers

A great idea, but it sounds like closing the barn door after the cows have already escaped.

-- neil r (nmruggles@earthlink.net), October 13, 2001.

I agree that much of the previously public info. should be secured under these circumstances. We should also be concerned, though, about missing/lost/stolen radioisotopes and related materials.

These materials include a number of licensed Troxler or Troxler-type soil moisture density guages, which, for example, can contain Cs-137 and Am-241. Before the NRC secured its website, my students and I reviewed the then public information on "Preliminary Notifications," public announcements relative to potential safety issues. In that review, we saw a pattern of missing/lost/stolen A-241/Cs-137 sources going back at least to 1998, over ten just this year, and, most recently, one in FLA on 9.28.01 in which such a guage was stolen from a toolbox after the lock was cut.

A-241 is commonly used in smoke detectors. However, you don't have to have an NRC license to have one of those in your home, and if you lost it, it would not endanger national security. Since the NRC has now secured this information, there is no way for the general public to stay informed, neither is there a good way to independently confirm the pattern that we have seen.

Many of the major news outlets are now speculating about Al Qaeda's NBC program. I am very concerned that someone may already be building such a "radiologic" program right here at home, using American-made equipment (see www. troxler.com).

Yours in fellowship,

John L. Eaton Asst. Professor of English Tsalagi (Cherokee) Firekeeper Duluth, GA (770) 623-1083

-- John L. Eaton (jeaton@mindspring.com), October 13, 2001.


I just spoke with the FBI's Anti-Terrorist Task Force to relay the general concerns I raised in my original posting here.

The person I spoke with thanked me for calling. She said they were indeed concerned about these issues and were monitoring them.

The Task Force number is 1-866-483-5137.

John "White Turtle" Eaton

-- John L. Eaton (jeaton@mindspring.com), October 13, 2001.


John,

Thanks for posting this on the forum. Will keep an eye out for more info per your E-Mail.

Martin

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 13, 2001.


Checked out the above site and found that troxler.com is a mortgage co. in California.

I believe the correct URL is

troxlerlabs

For those interested.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 13, 2001.



Thanks, Martin, for the URL correction.

John

-- John L. Eaton (jeaton@mindspring.com), October 13, 2001.


I have sent Mr. Bryan Troxler, President of the Troxler Mortgage Group, a letter of apology re. my erroneous URL listing, and I remain at his disposal for any concerns he may have.

John Eaton

-- John L. Eaton (jeaton@mindspring.com), October 13, 2001.


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