Report: Changes needed to make nuke plants secure

Michael Gormley

Associated Press 

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should be given better access to criminal databases and foreign travel history to try to keep terrorists from getting jobs inside the nation’s nuclear power plants, federal auditors said in a report Monday.

The commission’s inspector general, at the behest of Sen. Charles Schumer, began the review after a suspected al-Qaida member, Sharif Mobley, was found to have worked in a New Jersey nuclear power plant for six years.

“The terrorists look for our weak pressure points and it’s certainly possible they may say, `Maybe we can send someone to infiltrate a nuclear power plant,'” Schumer, of New York, told The Associated Press in an interview. “It’s not that these power plants are rife with terrorists … but all you need is one.”

Mobley’s arrest shows that the nation needed better security to protect nuclear plants from terrorist infiltration, and the NRC “truly stepped up to the plate and provided concrete, actionable recommendations that can be put in place immediately,” Schumer said.

Schumer discussed the audit and security issues during a series of news conferences near nuclear plants in New York on Monday. He said the recommendations must be acted upon within 30 days.

The NRC generally agreed with the findings and is working on the recommendations. There was no immediate comment from the commission.

“It is well past time that these safeguards are put in place,” said Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y. 

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