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NRC Unable to Verify That Nuclear Plants Meet Security Requirements, GAO Say

U.S. congressional auditors said yesterday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is unable to verify that all U.S. nuclear power plants are taking the required safeguards needed to protect against possible terrorist attacks (see GSN, Aug. 6).

During a hearing held by a House Government Reform subcommittee, officials from the Government Accountability Office described the NRC’s oversight of plant security as a “paper review” that was inadequate in ensuring that industry security plans met increased requirements established after the Sept. 11 attacks. In addition, security exercises to evaluate plant guard forces are not expected to be completed at all U.S. nuclear plants until late 2007, GAO officials said.

NRC officials, however, criticized the GAO’s findings, saying that inspections hours at plants have increased and that physical reviews have been conducted on 80 percent of the security items plant operators must address.

“We are there where the rubber meets the road when it comes to inspections,” commission Executive Director for Operations Luis Reyes said (H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press/Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 15).

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