Agency calls for increased security for nuclear materials

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Agency calls for increased security for nuclear materials

By Nancy Dunne in Washington - Nov 02 2001 20:37:32

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday called on its 132 member governments to step up security at nuclear facilities and offered assistance to poor countries to help control radioactive materials.

"In the wake of September 11, it is time to make sure nothing happens in the nuclear field," said David Kyd, IAEA spokesman. At a conference yesterday, representatives concluded that uniform standards should be adopted, and countries that could not afford to meet them ought to receive international assistance.

Increasingly jittery, Washington has proclaimed the highest state of alert for terrorist action until next Tuesday. The FBI is searching for six men who had been detained by police in the Midwest but released - although they were carrying material about a nuclear power plant in Florida and the Alaskan oil pipeline.

The Federal Aviation Administration is prohibiting general aviation flying within a radius of 10 miles and below 18,000 feet around 86 nuclear reactor sites.

Congressman Ed Markey, a senior Democrat on the energy and commerce committee, on Friday urged the president to call out the National Guard to protect all active and non-active nuclear facilities. Six states have already brought in their militias to guard operating plants.

"We must waste no more time studying the problem [of radioactive release]," he said. "The time for action is now."

Since the hijackings of four US commercial jets, anti-nuclear forces have issued dire warnings about the threat of massive radioactive releases if a terrorist managed to blow up a plant. Their concerns stretch beyond reactors to encompass spent nuclear fuels.

Richard Meserve, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, told the Financial Times that the nation's 103 plants were ordered to augment security after September 11 and since then they had added more guards and acquired more weaponry.

Mr Meserve also sent letters to the governors of 40 states asking for help in enhancing security. All have deployed either local or state police or called out militias.

Nevertheless, the House of Representatives this week approved legislation that would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to tighten security even further.

The Nuclear Control Institute, another watchdog group, called for anti-aircraft weapons around all the power plants. They argue that the threat of attack by suicidal terrorists had not been considered when security plans were drawn up by the utilities.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2001. http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3Y7SEGKTC&live=true&useoverridetemplate=IXL8L4VRRBC&tagid=ZZZOMSJK30C

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), November 02, 2001

Answers

Six men carrying material on a Florida Nuke plant and the Alaska pipeline were detained by police, then released? What kind of maschochism is this? I always thought obvious meant obvious.

-- RogerT (rogerT@c-zone.net), November 02, 2001.

I agree with Uncle Fred. Ground to air missle defense is the only way.

-- Sparky (case@webtown.com), November 02, 2001.

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