The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received a number of calls from reporters
working on stories marking the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of last
The attached fact sheet provides a summary of the measures NRC has mandated
to increase the security of the 103 operational nuclear power plants and other
nuclear facilities. Also described are enhancements of security at NRC facilities.
Nuclear Security Enhancements
Since Sept. 11, 2001
-- The NRC took security seriously well before the September 11 terrorist
attacks and has made additional enhancements since then in light of the increased
threat. Enhancements of security at NRC-licensed facilities are being continually
implemented notwithstanding that facilities such as nuclear power plants already
had a number of security and safeguards measures in place, making them among
the most robust and well protected civilian facilities in the country.
-- Following the September 11 attacks, the NRC immediately advised all major
licensees of nuclear facilities to go to the highest level of security. A
series of Advisories, Orders and Regulatory Issue Summaries have since been
issued to further strengthen security of NRC-licensed facilities and control
of nuclear materials.
-- The specific actions are sensitive, but generally include requirements
for increased patrols, augmentation of the number and capabilities of security
guards, additional security posts, installation of additional physical barriers,
vehicle checks at greater stand-off distances, enhanced coordination with
law enforcement and military authorities, and more restrictive site access
controls for personnel.
-- The NRC has underway a comprehensive review of the agency’s entire
safeguards and security program, regulations and procedures. The review is
ongoing and has resulted in numerous security improvements.
-- The NRC has studies underway to investigate potential vulnerabilities
of facilities to deliberate aircraft crashes. The work in this area is ongoing.
In the interim, the Commission has directed nuclear power plant licensees
to develop specific plans and strategies to respond to an event that could
potentially result in damage to large areas of their plants from explosions
or fire. In addition, licensees must provide assurance that their emergency
planning resources are sufficient to respond to such an event.
-- The NRC has worked with the Federal Aviation Administration on a Notice
to Airmen to prohibit planes from circling or loitering above nuclear power
plants and other nuclear facilities.
-- Additional measures have been put in place to provide additional protection
against land attacks, including the use of a substantial vehicle bomb, and
against water-borne attacks.
-- The Commission is working closely with other Federal agencies to revise
the design basis threat that provides the foundation for the security programs
of nuclear power plant licensees. The Commission’s Orders to these licensees
in February 2002 effectively provide enhanced security in the interim while
this work in underway.
-- The NRC has expanded involvement and enhanced liaison with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, other intelligence and law enforcement agencies,
NRC licensees, and military, State and local authorities.
-- The NRC has established an ongoing dialogue through frequent communications
with the Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Federal
Aviation Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other
-- Following the 9/11 attacks, NRC-evaluated security exercises were temporarily
suspended to allow licensees to focus on putting increased security measures
into place. NRC has reinitiated these drills by initially exercising the table
top component of the exercises that for the first time involve a wide array
of Federal, State and local law enforcement and emergency planning officials.
The NRC expects to expand the exercises to include a force-on-force component
at the beginning of next year.
-- Full security performance reviews, including force-on-force exercises,
will be carried out at each nuclear power plant on a three-year cycle instead
of the eight-year cycle that had been used prior to September 11, 2001.
-- The NRC has developed an inter-agency response procedure involving the
Department of Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among others,
to cope with the threat of a radiological dispersal device. In this role,
the NRC would provide technical advice to local authorities responsible for
emergency response, including suggestions for protective measures, and evaluation
of the radiological hazards.
-- The NRC is evaluating approaches for “cradle-to-grave” control
of radioactive sources which might be used in a radiological dispersal devise.
– With regard to the shipment of radioactive materials and spent fuel,
NRC has augmented security measures, including increased communications and
additional escort and monitoring provisions.
-- The NRC has increased staffing of its Headquarters Emergency Operations
Center to provide a cadre of experts on call to respond to emergencies around
the clock, 7 days a week. The additional staff aids in the prompt dissemination
of pertinent information to all concerned, including licensees, Federal and
-- The NRC established the Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
(NSIR) in April of this year to consolidate security, safeguards and incident
response responsibilities and resources and improve communication and coordination
both internal and external to the agency.
-- The creation of NSIR streamlines decision-making, improves the timeliness
and consistency of information, and provides a more visible point of contact
and effective counterpart to the Office of Homeland Security, as well as other
-- The NRC has developed a new Threat Advisory and Protective Measures System
to communicate and respond to threats affecting NRC licensees and NRC facilities
in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive. The system corresponds
to the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System which provides a consistent
national framework for allowing government officials to communicate the nature
and degree of terrorist threats. The NRC system identifies specific actions
to be taken by NRC licensees for each threat level to counter projected terrorist
threats. The new Threat Advisory and Protective Measures System replaces the
NRC’s 1998 threat advisory system and covers additional classes of licensees
not included in NRC’s 1998 system.
Security at NRC
-- On September 11, Chairman Meserve will deliver remarks to NRC staff in
tribute to those who died in the attacks, as well as to their bereaved families
and friends. NRC staff will observe a one-minute period of silence at 8:45
a.m. that morning, the time of the first airplane strike at the World Trade
-- In addition, a host of enhanced security measures were put in place at
NRC Headquarters, including the installation of concrete vehicle barriers,
increased armed guards, more stringent access procedures and ongoing intra-agency
communications to keep all NRC employees informed of the latest developments.
Security was also bolstered at NRC regional offices.
-- The NRC conducted a comprehensive review and revision of its web site
to remove sensitive information which could be of interest to terrorists,
while it continued to provide the public with appropriate material on the
NRC and its activities.