This article originally appeared in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group whose mission is preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Entities managing the 104 nuclear reactors in the United States are expected to inform the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by June 10 of what preparations, systems, and specialists they have ready to employ following a potential strike by extremists, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said last week.
The federal government is seeking to confirm that atomic plant operators can handle an event causing an extended electricity failure or significant amounts of structural harm at a facility, and to assess the potential need to revise NRC rules, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Site managers must follow up on their initial reports with additional detail by July 11.
Mandates put in place after the attacks of September 11, 2001, are aimed at ensuring nuclear plants can retain or regain heat removal functions if a detonation or conflagration compromised site components, NRC Nuclear Reactor Regulation Office head Eric Leeds said. Cooling operations are intended to prevent the release of radiation from reactors or ponds containing used nuclear fuel.
The commission first sought to lay out specific steps for atomic facility administrators, and the government hopes to address overseer education as well as system upkeep issues, Leeds said.
Washington started undertaking reforms to its atomic facility policies in light of the Japanese nuclear crisis that began more than two months ago.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom and a number of other countries have voiced concerns over a demand that they declare measures in place for protecting their atomic sites from extremists, the Belfast Telegraph reported on Thursday. European Union member nations in March backed a plan to vet the bloc's 143 atomic sites according to shared criteria.
British officials would probably put off action on the matter prior to the release of a new national atomic safety assessment, according to the Telegraph. The government is set this week to divulge certain details from the assessment, which was written by Nuclear Installation Inspectorate head Mike Weightman.
Settling on shared security guidelines for nuclear sites could be a difficult undertaking, British government sources said, adding their nation's requirements for atomic facilities are already stringent.