Washington, DC., March 29, 2005. The New York Times reported today that the National Academy of Sciences issued a report confirming the vulnerability of nuclear spent fuel pools to terrorist attack. According to the press the Academy Report is classified and not available to the public. The press accounts vindicate allegations raised by the National Whistleblowers Center and nuclear whistleblower Randy Robarge shortly after the 9-11 attacks. Specifically, the NWC was the first organization to release NRC internal engineering reports which fully documented (1) the vulnerability of every nuclear plant in the US. to an airborne terrorist attack; and (2) the vulnerability of spent fuel pools to terrorist attack.
The spent fuel pools are facilities in which every nuclear power plant stores its nuclear waste. When constructed they had no realistic safeguards to prevent terrorist attacks. Prior to the 9-11 attacks, the NRC had rejected requests to have the spent fuel pools even minimally guarded.
Mr. Robarge, a long term radiation protection supervisor at several nuclear power plants, fully documented the lack of safeguards at spent fuel pool and the amount of radioactive matter that, if released, would have a catastrophic impact.
In October 2001, the NWC and Mr. Robarge formally petitioned the NRC to take immediate protective action to protect spent fuel pools from terrorist attack. The NRC issued a ruling on the petition but classified the corrective action it was planning to take.
According to the New York Times report, the NRC has insisted on classifying the Academy’s findings. Additionally, the New York Times disclosed that the NRC is opposing some of the findings of the Academy. “The NRC’s failure to take aggressive and immediate corrective action to protect public health and safety from the serious threat posed by the storage of radioactive waste in ill-protected spent fuel pools is irresponsible,” stated Stephen M. Kohn, the Chairman of the NWC’s Board of Directors. The NWC is calling for the release of the Academy’s full report. “The NRC has a duty to fully inform the public of the hazards of nuclear powers and to allow the citizenry to make informed decisions regarding this critical energy source,” added Kohn.