Assault Scenario: Attackers ‘Strike’ Nukes

Friday, July 1, 2011 @ 11:07 AM gHale

Commandos that attacked 24 nuclear power plants in pre-announced drills last year were able to “damage” or “destroy” critical targets at two of the plants, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The NRC did not identify the nuclear plants that failed the security tests, citing security concerns and other sensitivities. But it said inspectors remained at those plants until they remedied security shortcomings.

RELATED STORIES
It Took 15 Years to Replace Nuke Safety Charger
Nuke Plant Safety Rules Inadequate
NRC: Plants Safe, But Need Work
Nuclear Plant Safety Tunnel Eyed

Each year, about a fourth of the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear power plants undergo security tests, which involve several weeks of security inspections and table-top exercises that probe for holes in security, followed by three consecutive nights of “force-on-force” assaults. Everyone knows the assaults are coming ahead of time so as to avoid confusion with real-world events. Participants attack plant defenses in an effort to “destroy” critical buildings or equipment.

Attack scenarios are changed nightly to give the attackers, called the “composite adversary force” (CAF), the upper hand.

Last year’s results are roughly analogous to those in recent years. In the three previous years, between two and four plants suffered breaches and targets ended up “destroyed,” the NRC said.

According to a version of an NRC report released Wednesday, the NRC conducted force-on-force inspections at 24 nuclear power plants and one nuclear fuel facility during 2010. It identified 23 deficiencies, but none was in the upper range of severity.

At two unidentified sites, the utilities failed to “effectively protect” the target during mock attacks, the report said

Assault teams include contractors who work as security guards at other plants. Participants use military-grade laser weapon systems known as MILES, for Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, to simulate gunfire. NRC inspectors witness the assaults and the response.

The attacks occur on three consecutive nights to ensure that each shift of power plant’s security force, which rotate schedules, can participate in the drills.