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Security At Nuclear Facilities: Danger Likely Lurks From Within

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the only-trust-people-who-don't-work-there dept.

Security 72

mdsolar (1045926) sends this excerpt from the Stanford Report: "Insider threats are the most serious challenge confronting nuclear facilities in today's world, a Stanford political scientist says. In every case of theft of nuclear materials where the circumstances of the theft are known, the perpetrators were either insiders or had help from insiders, according to Scott Sagan and his co-author, Matthew Bunn of Harvard University, in a research paper published this month by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 'Given that the other cases involve bulk material stolen covertly without anyone being aware the material was missing, there is every reason to believe that they were perpetrated by insiders as well,' they wrote. And theft is not the only danger facing facility operators; sabotage is a risk as well ... While there have been sabotage attempts in the United States and elsewhere against nuclear facilities conducted by insiders, the truth may be hard to decipher in an industry shrouded in security, [Sagan] said. The most recent known example occurred in 2012 – an apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear facility in California. Arguably the most spectacular incident happened at South Africa's Koeberg nuclear power plant (then under construction) in South Africa in 1982 when someone detonated explosives directly on a nuclear reactor."

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Fear (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46849291)

And another blatant attempt to spread it. Any significant sabotage to a nuke plant that actually leads to a nuclear release is a whole lot harder to pull off than the perception given off in this article.

Re:Fear (2)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about 9 months ago | (#46849351)

Yeah, I mean think about the security of the oil infrastructure. Sure it's not "radiation," but an oil spill is a big deal. Oil is already shipped in takner cars which have a nasty habit of exploding on their own, much less with a little help. Then you have all those huge pipelines, and oil tankers. Not to mention offshore rigs, or messing with a fracking operation.

When it comes to energy or environmental security, nuclear plants are not where I would start.

This isn't even getting into the radiation deaths caused by, unguarded, stolen medical equipment.

Re:Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849787)

Blowing up a couple oil barrels won't put a terrorist group on the map. However, taking out a nuclear plant most definitely will, and it will make them a star of the world stage, while pushing energy progress back another 100 years.

This is a BIG worry. There are a lot of H-1Bs hired from countries hostile to the US [1], with contractors trading security for cheapness, and it wouldn't be surprising that one of them would at least be willing to listen to someone paying them well if they could sabotage the reactor, and have the effects felt after the person went back home.

Sadly, this is only a matter of time. When you hire people from any country because they are cheap, their interests lie elsewhere, and it is only a matter of time before this Hollywood fantasy becomes real.

[1]: India is one example... they were buddy-buddies with the USSR until that fell, realized they were not going to far after the Soviet Union fell, and since Russia is strong again, there is a good chance they may resume cozy relations with the Motherland.

Re:Fear (2)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 9 months ago | (#46849839)

And who's fault is that ?
Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, (insert your favorite neurological poison here) is poisonous forever. All the many tons of carcinogenic materials dumped into the Fukushima environment by the oil refinery that burned for a week and many other environmental disasters got 1% of the attention the nuclear accident got.
Radioactive elements decay into stable elements eventually loosing all of it's radioactivity.
Plus alpha radiation from Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium is the easiest radiation to protect ourselves from. A sheet of paper is enough to stop alpha rays.
So if you catch my drift the most important aspect of the subject is educating the people that radiation is way less serious than it's cracked up to be.
I'm not saying that very high levels of radiation is harmless, it can kill or cause cancer.
But that dirty bomb scenarios are way less serious than the media advertises.
Consider Chernobyl acted like the biggest dirty bomb ever detonated. Notice there was no nuclear explosion, the explosion and subsequent fire was chemical.
Even with all USSR incompetence after the accident just around 100 people died so far. Predicted worse case scenarios is 4000-6000 total deaths in the long run.
Should iodine tablets have been administered a very high percentage of those predicted cancer deaths and cancer cases could have been avoided (perhaps as high as 80%).
A cobalt, strontium, caesium dirty bomb is no cake walk, but it's not tens of thousands of deaths even if it happens right in Manhattan, Boston or some other high density area.
What we have is a mass radiophobia problem. Just as irrational as people with aracnophobia or something of the kind. Sure we shouldn't go playing with spiders, but they don't deserve our panic.

Re:Fear (1)

nojayuk (567177) | about 9 months ago | (#46850177)

Both the Allies and the Axis forces sank millions of tonnes of loaded oil tankers during WWII, not to mention similar tonnages of warships each with many tonnes of fuel oil on board. One of the submerged museum ships at Pearl Harbor was still leaking fuel decades after it was sunk in 1941. As far as I know this extended and untreated oil spillage has had little long-term effect on sealife and the general health of the oceans worldwide.

Re:Fear (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 9 months ago | (#46849487)

Any significant sabotage to a nuke plant that actually leads to a nuclear release is a whole lot harder to pull off

Theft of radioactive materials... probably not so much.. but is theft from an active plant the easiest route that the bad guys are going to pick? They could actually buy it on the open market...

Also... come to think of it.... there's 200 square miles or so of wasteland from chernobyl in Ukraine with radioactive materials there, essentially abandoned.

Granted, it's been 30 years, and anything highly radioactive ought to have decayed by now, with only long halflife low-level radioactives remaining, but I'm sure a persistent suicidal thief with the right tools and knowledge could be able to find enough materials to construct something combined with more traditional explosives that the public would find scary; just the idea that those terrorists/miscreants/ne'erdowells could be in possession of such stuff could keep the world from sleeping at night.

Re:Fear (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46849519)

no, there is 200 square miles with dust you wouldn't want to eat. The real "bad stuff" is inside a structure called The Sarcophagus, and no worries no bad guys will be going inside there to steal the "corium", the rad levels are 10,000 rem / hour, their nervous system would shut down prior to their rather prompt death. A new project called the New Safe Confinement is underway to surround the Sarcophagus, and then to dismantle that and remove the curium and other contaminated materials.

Re:Fear (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 9 months ago | (#46849729)

rad levels are 10,000 rem / hour, their nervous system would shut down prior to their rather prompt death.

I suppose not. However, the bad guys may be suicidal errorists, remember?

Also... if some Ukranian extremists think the Russians are about to take their country, they might opt to blow open the Sarcophagus... Also instead of entering the building on foot, the bad guys may bring in a few thousand pounds of high explosives to open up the structure and disperse materials -- they just need to collect enough bits a few miles away in order to to transport to their target.

Re:Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46864355)

Suicidal, maybe, but are they suicidal enough? Radiation levels inside the sarcophagus are high enough to cause immediate symptoms of radiation sickness, and you'll probably die before you get back out with the materials you're trying to steal.

Re:Fear (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46849529)

Walk yourself through the steps, support structure and equipment that would be required to pull that off balanced against the likelihood of getting caught. Then you might sleep better. Evil ones tend to choose easier paths.

Re:Fear fear glorious NUCLER FEAR! (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 9 months ago | (#46850575)

Walk yourself through the steps, support structure and equipment that would be required to pull that off balanced against the likelihood of getting caught. Then you might sleep better. Evil ones tend to choose easier paths.

"Hello --- Doc --- I'm having trouble getting to sleep lately. The sheep are wearing strange equipment, some carry rolls of blueprints in their mouth. But the most bizarre thing is, they're counting down not up. I tried flipping my mattress over but I just wound up underneath it. What should I do??"

But more seriously, what we have here is a reminder that Insider threats are the most serious challenge confronting ___________ in today's world, Captain Obvious says. This modern post-9/11 genre has its roots in the classical Reader's Digest series Hints From Heloise, in which a calm trusted voice would soothe troubled housewives with too much time on their hands by suggesting tiny improvements and shortcuts like cutting empty bleach bottles into new, functional shapes and experimenting with food. Don't just think outside the box, why not cut the front off the boxes, paint them with cheerful latex colors and stack them in the closet to organize shoes. Occasionally something insightful and amazing has arisen from it such as the triple-Decker grill cheese sandwich.

But more seriously, the Stanford Scholars are capitalizing on the general condition of the times, camping out at the triple-Decker sandwich where Hints from Heloise, Safety Culture and the Security Culture meet. They are paving a new lecture circuit. And (if you skim down TA) Obviously a series of "don't assume" posters. Dilbert's boss has the whole set. Some are hung upside down.

Go to Vegas and ask anyone who makes 100k+ a year doing security what works and they'll tell you that a general, intelligent sense of situational awareness is best. Let your people watch lots of people so they can learn to read people. A set of SIMPLE guidelines and procedures to follow, the freedom to share suspicious with superiors with confidentiality and without prejudice and you're done. You've assembled the best security machine possible.

But that should be obvious too.

I believe that there is a move afoot to capitalize on the post-Fukushima radiation fear as applied to operating nuclear power plants, in the same way that there was a dirty bomb rad-fad some years past. And yes, some of the threat is coming from within. I speak of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recent 'shocking' news item "Uneven enforcement suspected at nuclear plants [ap.org] which was covered here at Slashdot [slashdot.org] . Where an organization charged with security oversight stoops to insinuation and fear-mongering in the press even though doing so is an admission of incompetence. I am forced to conclude that some useless eaters have invaded the Security and Safety cultures. On that I have already spoken my piece [slashdot.org] . Warning: severe tire damage.

Please see Thorium Remix [youtube.com] and my own letters on energy,
To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate [scribd.com]
To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate [scribd.com]

Re:Fear fear glorious NUCLER FEAR! (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 8 months ago | (#46851971)

Nuclear energy is by far the most profitable energy on the big business, macroeconomic scale, especially when you consider available reserves, and carbon emission/global warming issues. Unfortunately it has the safety issue side, as nuclear energy is so energy rich, a single terrorist event can wipe out entire cities. And I don't mean the small ones, but the biggest of the biggest cities. A weapon of such capability is unprecedented in the history of human warfare. So how we gonna live then, we must assume everyone is sane then, and nobody is willing to pull the trigger first under a mutually assured destruction scenario. Unfortunately evidence shows that there are lots of insane people out there, the jails have lots of violent murderers, who, when you listen to them will argue they had no choice but to commit something lest their image, or honor, or reputation, or mental tranquility and religious well being be upset and tarnished. As in "she was messin with my flo, so I knock the biatch the fuck out. dont nobody cross me like that, I aint gon let it happen, i aint goin down without a fight" Well, who the hell are you and what's the big deal with leaving your flow intact? And what's the big deal with going down without a fight? As a general trend such insane people don't end up at the top, but there are exceptions. History has quite a few insane leaders, like Nero burning Rom, shutting the gates of Rome and setting it on fire, so that he can find some poetic inspiration in the whole drama and compose some great literature and music. Those on top in in the US can't end up there or stay there without image, honor, reputation, etc, which requires active protection. Luckily we've had a culture of free speech/very first amendment rights, with SNL and Mad TV and the Tonight Show and David Letterman, etc., where we constantly tarnish the image, honor and reputation of our people at the top, but the jokes cannot be completely right, else those politicians lose their posts and are no longer politicians, which is not a big deal, we can always find more politicians, and it's better for them to leave office than engage in crazy things like Watergate coverups. It's a very subtle game, and though, compared to a monarch, with a dynasty holding a few hundred years in his view, our politicians might be shortsighted, hold no long term vision, because of their short stay in office, Washington was probably right, and politicians should be changed as often as diapers, for the same reasons. The brits and other places in the world go with monarchies, we go with democracies, we think our way is much better, but the nuclear threat wiping out all life on Earth looms, if another cold war develops, or at least the threat of creating a significant event with massive destruction by terrorists looms, but then the rest of us still survive, and life is both fragile but more resilient than a lot of people think, including being able to absorb and be poisoned by heavy doses of radiation and still recuperate and move on. Unfortunately we don't really have any other economically and environmentally sound alternative at the macro, big business scale, than nuclear energy.

The answer to the nuclear security issue, as everyone knows, is renewable energy. Renewable energy has all the benefits of and even tops nuclear energy when it comes to pollution, global warming carbon emissions, availability of long term fuel reserves, and most importantly, terrorist safety*(with an asterisk, as this is a subtle topic too.) The big problem on the macroeconomic scale is profitability, as renewable energy is the costliest of all energy forms, and profitability is pretty much the only thing that matters on the big business scale, so that makes renewable energy a moot point, a moot solution. It takes like 50,000 windmills to compensate for a single nuclear plant with a couple reactors. That's 50,000 windmills worth of copper or aluminum conduits, 50,000 windmills worth of surrounding empty acrerage, as windmills cannot be placed on top of each other but need spacing, etc. The above issues of profitability, enormous size, cabling, infrastructure and real estate requirements also apply to solar. As far as a macroeconomic analysis goes. However, from the standpoint of Jefferson's independent voter noncitydwelling yeoman farmer goes, all these things don't apply, as he is already 50,000 in number and each can micromanage 1 windmill, like sailors on a deck can micromanage the sails, the conduits, infrastructure and real estate is already present just to supply his other needs. Decentralized power production can also set free a true free market economy instead of oligopolies/monopolies presently handling it, and establish energy independence from foreign energy sources. There are some safety issues though, as centralized control, centralized power, even if abused, it may be safer than fully distributed power in the hands of yeomans. The issues are similar to the movie where a farmer built a spaceship in his barn. Can you live in a world where your neighbor Pete, who likes rehabbing old cars, picked up a new hobby, and he's got a collection of spacesuits, and small spaceships, and last weekend he went for a trip to the other side of the Moon and brought home some moon rocks as souvenirs? That was last weekend, and he's so capable, that this weekend his latest hobby is building nukes bigger than the Tsar bomba, and he could take out all of Paris, the capital of France, with a single detonation, but he's a good guy, and not angry, he has no agenda, so he doesn't need to draw attention to his "cause", cause he ain't got no cause, he just thinks nukes are cool, and he likes collecting them. That is the core issue with yeoman generated energy, as presently anyone engaged in a heavy activity requiring a lot of energy consumption clocks a certain amount of kWh on the electricity meter, and there are correlations of production vs. energy consumption, statistics in the field, such as furniture factories, and any businesses off the chart, off the average can be investigated for why they waste so much electricity compared to the others, or how they are able to save so much compared to others. It's all recorded in the kWh of electricity bills, and with self generated electricity, it's hard to supervise production, and excess production might be converted into such things as mining nuclear materials, in a deep underground facility, without anyone noticing. Nuclear materials, like gold, are widely present in all rock, it's often simply a question of profitability from a macroeconomic standpoint, but just because it's not profitable for a big business, that does not remove the threat of the yeomanry's access to it. And the chances of finding crazy distributed yeomans are usually higher than finding insane, oppressively centralized power figures. However the yeoman is not directly working with nuclear materials, but the centralized power is, and he still has to hire yeomans to do the minor work, though the few he hires can be individually verified.

If you ask me, I'd personally go for the decentralized yeoman renewable energy way of energy independence, and we police the yeomans through airplanes, gossip, etc., compared to oppressive central government controlled energy production, and ridiculous "fair market" prices issued by utility monopolies or oligopolies, where we all suffer, because we can't stand our own two feet, we cannot live self sufficiently, and we're all bankrupt.

Re:Fear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849527)

Is Niger pronounced "ny-jer" or "nig-ger"? I say it's the latter but I have been told it is the former.

Re: Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849907)

Coal plants release exponentially more radiation than nuclear plants. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

Re: Fear (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 8 months ago | (#46852081)

Coal plants release exponentially more radiation than nuclear plants.

No, they just release more.

Don't repeat words you've heard grown-ups use. Half of them don't know what it means either.

Re:Fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46851021)

You know what scares me most?! The lack of airport security it's only a matter of time before the terrorist get me. Sigh, now I gotta go cry myself to sleep over in the corner whispering they're coming for me over and over. /s That's for you Uncle Sam, for the love of god!! PLEASE don't beef it up anymore.

not about sabotage but about theft (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#46851849)

Why sabotage a plant if you can steal nuclear material and make a dirty bomb. It's been proven that stealing material is relatively easy. Making a conventional bomb that will contaminate a large area with the nuclear material strapped to it is also known to be easy. The only reason nuclear is part of this is because it's so incredibly poisonous and relatively easy to transport and use in a dirty bomb. There are few, if any materials that will make a DIY explosive so effective as this.

This is not about fear for nuclear energy, but about fear for human actions. Most if not all nuclear incidents we have had so far are because humans made mistakes or intentionally did things to create the incidents. Whether nuclear energy is safe or not is something you can debate about, but having humans in control over design and operation has sufficiently been proven to be a big risk factor.

Re:not about sabotage but about theft (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 8 months ago | (#46852771)

Why sabotage a plant if you can steal nuclear material and make a dirty bomb[?]

Because sabotage may be difficult to detect beforehand, and even more difficult to definitively prove as sabotage, apart from human error or mechanical failure, depending on the nature of the sabotage. I believe that a competent saboteur is probably more likely to both succeed and avoid detection/prosecution than would a radiological-material thief.

Further, the trade-offs involved in adding a radiological component to a conventional bomb aren't favorable; the investigation into the theft the radiological material makes detection/intervention prior to detonation more likely, and the primary benefits of a "dirty bomb" over a conventional bomb are higher cleanup costs and increasing panic amongst the targeted populace. Adding a radiological component has little effect on a bomb's lethality. This has been the conclusion of numerous reports and studies; here's the first one I found, prepared by the UN WHO (World Health Organization): Radiological Dispersion Device (Dirty Bomb) - WHO/RAD Information sheet (February 2003). [who.int]

It's been proven that stealing material is relatively easy.

I agree that this is problematic; Wikipedia states [wikipedia.org] :

"The International Atomic Energy Agency says there is 'a persistent problem with the illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, thefts, losses and other unauthorized activities.' The IAEA Illicit Nuclear Trafficking Database notes 1,266 incidents reported by 99 countries over the last 12 years, including 18 incidents involving HEU or plutonium trafficking."

However, there's no indication as to what's being done with the stolen materials. One thing they're apparently not being used for is the construction and use of "dirty bombs," since there have been no such detonations in the past 12 years. These thefts could be being orchestrated by nation-states for use in their own nuclear programs, or in order to deny these materials to the nations from which they were stolen.

Making a conventional bomb that will contaminate a large area with the nuclear material strapped to it is also known to be easy. The only reason nuclear is part of this is because it's so incredibly poisonous and relatively easy to transport and use in a dirty bomb. There are few, if any materials that will make a DIY explosive so effective as this.

As I've said, "dirty bombs" offer little in the way of improved efficacy over conventional bombs. There are many enhancements that could be added, all of which are generally more effective and most of which are more easily procured or manufactured: shrapnel; anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin) for increasing mortality from otherwise-survivable wounds; poisons (e.g., ricin); chemical agents (sulfur/nitrogen mustard, chlorine, sarin); biological agents (anthrax); incendiaries (typically metallic or petroleum-based).

What is observed in the real world is that — aside from the use of shrapnel — hardly anyone that conducts bombings (beside regular military forces) bothers to incorporate any of these enhancements in the near-daily bombings that are occurring nowadays.

It is also worth considering that among military forces — certainly the most well-funded, prolific, experienced, and effective users of bombs — none incorporate radiological bombs in their arsenals. Both military and non-military bomb users seem to know something that "dirty bomb" scare-mongers do not.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849295)

but of course the danger lurks from within. It's called Uranium.

No kidding (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849387)

The most serious security threat facing anything is the insider threat. Retail theft, copyright infringement from the movie/publishing industries, keeping trade secrets, etc.

This is what happens when Rebpublicans... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849411)

control something. They want an accident in order to grab more power. That is the way their kind does things.

San Onofre diesel generator .. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849419)

"an apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear facility in California"

Federal nuclear regulators investigate failure of backup San Onofre diesel generator during testing [ocregister.com]

San Onofre - how did coolant end up in emergency diesel generator oil system? [nuclear.com]

Historical analysis (1)

Tontoman (737489) | about 9 months ago | (#46849429)

The article in Stanford News is informal, but it refers to a scholarly research paper that is a retrospective of historical events, and its conclusions seem to be well-supported by facts.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46849437)

When one of your leading examples is an unsuccessful attempt at a plant under construction, where it doesn't even matter because there is no nuclear material even on site, then you might find reason to be a tiny bit critical rather than blindly accepting. However, the article does point out that so far the security approach has worked quite well in the US.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Tontoman (737489) | about 9 months ago | (#46850227)

No exactly. The paper suggests that "truth may be hard to decipher in an industry shrouded in security" which makes sense because incidents/responses would probably be highly classified. Especially involving insiders. So the best "leading examples" as you say would probably not be published in a publicly-available source.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46850331)

All nuclear plant incidents are publicly reported, including security related incidents. Certain details may not always be available for obvious reasons.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Tontoman (737489) | about 9 months ago | (#46850421)

Link? I know that NRC hasn't reported any incidents before 1999 http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/... [nrc.gov] . The wikipedia page speaks of incidents which are just recently declassified http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org] (footnote 43) and were not disclosed to the public by the DOE (see rocketdyne )
That being said, (and fwiw) Nuclear power as safe, clean energy. However doesn't take away the value of the research paper as to potential threat posed by insiders. Even if it has never happened, it still would be horrible consequences if it did.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46850813)

pre 1999 is not documented online, you'll need to make a trip to DC and they'll let you in the document room. Looks like you have the link to the rest already.

Also, don't confuse nuclear weapons incidents with nuclear power, unless that's just intentional on your part.

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Tontoman (737489) | about 9 months ago | (#46850901)

Two brief points:
  1. a link to some reports does not support your assertion that "All nuclear plant incidents are publicly reported." It seems likely to me some incidents are classified. But would welcome a link from you to something that backs up what you said. (for example, if there is an official policy that none are classified)
  2. The paper mentioned in TFA referred to nuclear facilities and was not limited to just nuclear power plants

Re:Historical analysis (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 8 months ago | (#46852109)

10CFR 50.70 contains reporting requirements for commercial nuclear plants.

Clearly the discussion and the focus of the article were on commercial nuclear power plants, as were the comments. The NRC did not always have authority over DOE activities involving nuclear material, and still has very limited DOD involvement. The NRC does cover all commercial uses of radioactive material such as medical or industrial testing, as well as waste from those.

hysterical analist (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46849481)

no, it is hysteria-mongering. much ado about nothing. there is no credible evidence sabotage has *ever* caused dangerous release of radiation at any nuclear power plant. the 2012 event in the USA was more likely mistake than sabotage, see my other comment

Re:hysterical analist (1)

Tontoman (737489) | about 9 months ago | (#46850323)

So you are saying that because the "2012 event" was caused by a mistake rather than a by a malicious action by the insider. So you are saying that there is no legitimate fear because the motive of the insider was probably pure. However, this is contradicted by the paper which said: An internal investigation found “evidence of potential tampering as the cause of the abnormal condition,” as the company reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Another way to look at it is this: From what I read about the incident, a fluid was put into the lubrication system of the backup diesel generator which would have caused the generator to quickly overheat and fail, if it were ever to be run (like in an emergency, for example). Do you realize that this is precisely what caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org] The cooling system for the reactors failed because they didn't have power from any diesel generator, and this (in part) caused the meltdown.
It sounds wise for nuclear industry to remain vigilant to the possibility of insider threat.

hysterical analist (1)

blagooly (897225) | about 9 months ago | (#46850605)

Read whats left of my mind there, kemo sabe. Japanese best be very careful, is what I get from this story. 10 day old story about Tepco suspecting sabotage: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld... [nhk.or.jp] TFA finishes with a reference to Japan. Tepco is of course hiring the homeless, hundreds of unknowns floating around. Using the mob to find/coerce people to do the work. Not to mention extreme PTSD, people have been messed up.

The SFPs are vulnerable. Here too. They are by far the riskiest aspect of the whole show. Not some little bit that some idiot might try and steal. 20,000 Hiroshioma, ready to burn baby. In everyone's backyard, everywhere. And many more people know about them, due to Fuku. Stanford fellow isn't going to broadcast this, but the men doing the dance know, and they better sweat about it.

US plants need to get that stuff into cask storage. Yesterday.

They won't, just like we still don't have some form of On Star in airplanes. One would have logically thought that would have been the first step after 9/11? Nah.

What (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 9 months ago | (#46849447)

"the truth may be hard to decipher in an industry shrouded in security"

Just look at this fucking sentence. Look at it. I read things like this and I wonder how we as a species ever got to the point that there was an internet in the first place. How can you not realize that opacity is the bane of security. If anything about nuclear facilities is to be secure at all the rules, regulations and operations governing the entire structure need to be knowable when circumstance requires it. That this is not the case is just... I don't even know. There's no suitable analogy to accurately convey my level of disbelief.

Re:What (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 9 months ago | (#46849483)

If anything about nuclear facilities is to be secure at all the rules, regulations and operations governing the entire structure need to be knowable when circumstance requires it.

And they are. Clearly, the writing of this article was not one of those circumstances.

Re:What (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 9 months ago | (#46850441)

"the truth may be hard to decipher in an industry shrouded in security"
Well that because the Illuminati tell the Trilateral Commission Puppeteers how to pull the Koch Bros strings to have Big-Oil funnel billions of dollars of secret funding to Climate deniers so that they can continue to sell fossil fuels at commodity prices instead of selling their post-peak resources as high profit boutique petro-chemicals. Of course the answer could be just plain ol' boring nothing to see here. At the end of the day the last line of security is most of the workers are more conscientious than management deserves and frequently have friends and family that would be in harm's way if they weren't.

When aren't insider the biggest threat in general? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849449)

Expert insiders know the system, its weaknesses and secrets. Incompetent insiders are the position to put a system into a catastrophic failure by accident.

wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46849451)

that's the best example they could come up with for the USA in the past few decades? Let me tell you about that incident, it was found that some dumb-ass had poured engine coolant into the oil tank. "Suspected Possible Sabotage" read the headlines, but smart money would be on stupid mistake as that would not have caused damage to reactor even if generators needed, it was part of redundant set which is required in USA.

Sabotage at nuke plants is largely a non-issue, too hard to make something bad happen. Worst case you'd trip the reactor offline and make the shareholders angry at the lost power generating time.

24 hour news cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849541)

All this media needs to talk about something - and if it SCARES us or ANGERS us - then it gets more viewers.

Just see the Grand Master, Rupert Murdoch. That mother fucker has millions of old, white, conservative people thinking that the World is being taken over by Liberal Socialist Muslims who want to take away their Social Security - or something like that.

He's got the old people too SCARED not to watch or read his shit. (In US: Wall Street Journal, Fox News).

I used to work at an AM radio station. The new mgr cut the cosumer advocate and other shows and added more "Talk Radio". Why? That's where the money is.

Target demographic? Old white conservative men. $$$$$$$

Piss them off and they'll keep coming back.

Same rhetoric techniques that they all use:

1. Truth.

2. Half truth that makes common sense.

3. Lie.

Example: The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977.

1. Targets for banks to loan in poor neighborhoods.

2. It FORCED banks to loan to peole who wouldn't be otherwise considered (not really)

3. It CAUSED the financial meltdown of '08 because banks were FORCED by Liberals to lend to people who had noway to pay the loan back!!!

And what they NEVER mentioned was that their boy, George W. Bush expanded the program.

Oh, when Obama was elected, Champaign was popping all over the place! Because when a Democrat, let alone a BLACK ONE, is in office, ratings go up!!

Re:wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849979)

Good thing Homer Simpson is just a cartoon.

Re:wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (1)

catmistake (814204) | about 9 months ago | (#46850841)

Sabotage at nuke plants is largely a non-issue, too hard to make something bad happen

True. Honda generators are heavy. No one wants to lug those things across the parking lot.

Re:wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46851275)

Can't let this go unpunished.

Awhile back, a high mucky-muck in the Honda Generator Manufacturing Department went to the motorcycle department and said, "How can we make our generators sexy?" And Boom - They're more powerful, lighter, quieter, easier to use, and yes, as sexy as a generator ever gets. They're not cheap - But o lord the Honda gensets were a complete game changer in their market niche.

They're awesome.


Re:wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46854159)

I just hope no one starts thinking about how to sabotage a nuclear power plant with a generator. What an ass the GP is.

Re:wtf, sabotage of a diesel engine? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 9 months ago | (#46915995)

don't worry, you can't. that's in the realm of Hollywood and TV bullshit, not reality.

Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb material (3, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | about 9 months ago | (#46849597)

You die. Seriously, the stuff that's radioactive enough to make a dirty bomb is radioactive enough to kill you before you get offsite. New fuel (less than 5% enriched uranium) is not particularly radioactive. It's perfectly safe to stand next to it; to inspect it before you put it in the nuclear reactor. On the other hand, spent fuel is incredibly radioactive, and when it's being handled it's kept under 30' of water so it doesn't kill everyone in the building.

Now, let's assume you had access to the fuel long enough to get it out of the pool. You would receive a lethal dose of radiation in 36 seconds; enough to kill you within a month. Even if death doesn't come for weeks, you would be rapidly debilitated- which of course would leave you immobile next to something giving off massive amounts of radiation, so I imagine you'd be dead-dead within a half hour. Probably much less.

Now, there is spent fuel that's had several years to decay sitting in dry storage on most nuclear sites, but they're kept in casks and bunkers which are so robust, you're not going to be able to steal or breach them in less time than it takes for three states worth of Law Enforcement and FBI to come crashing down on your party.

That fuel in dry storage would still kill you, but it would take longer.

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

datorum (1280144) | about 9 months ago | (#46850497)

> That fuel in dry storage would still kill you, but it would take longer.
you are such a negative person.

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 9 months ago | (#46850649)

While everything you say is true, it's also completely irrelevant.

Or do you believe that the mentality of Suicide Bombers does not apply in this situation?

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46850791)

It might, but they're committing suicide too early to do anything useful with whatever they're stealing, is the point of the GP.

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 8 months ago | (#46854643)

No, it is completely relevant. This stuff is so radioactive that "you will die if you go near it" means a bit more than "you'll have a 75% higher chance of getting cancer ten years later".

It's more like "you'll start going barmy, having fits and and your arse will literally shite itself inside out before you can get anywhere near the zionist running dogs with it, PBUY".

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46851273)

So, you don't actually steal it. You blow it up, along with the site itself. Cause safety system failure and cause a meltdown. If you don't plan to survive the attack, you can certainly use a nuclear plant itself as a sort of weapon.

Hmm, now I have to wait more than 4 minutes between comments. There's always something new here on slashdot, and it always sucks ass.

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | about 8 months ago | (#46852275)

So, you don't actually steal it. You blow it up, along with the site itself. Cause safety system failure and cause a meltdown. If you don't plan to survive the attack, you can certainly use a nuclear plant itself as a sort of weapon.

You say it like that would be easy. It wouldn't. Nuclear power plants have significant numbers of armed guards who run drills against adversary teams trying to do just that sort of thing; a factor that's very important, but omitted due to the nature of my previous point.

I'd also like to point out there is a short supply of suicide attackers who have any sort of real capacity to run a mission. 9/11 was the last time anyone with more than five brain cells willingly died in an attack. There's been the occasional unwilling but reasonably intelligent suicide bomber, but a guy like that ain't doing much besides driving a car up to a target.

If you have proof to the contrary, I'd like to see it.

Re:Let me tell you about stealing dirty bomb mater (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46852465)

You say it like that would be easy. It wouldn't.

Right, and to come full circle, that's why security at nuclear facilities is important. If it were easy, maybe someone would do it.

I'd also like to point out there is a short supply of suicide attackers who have any sort of real capacity to run a mission. 9/11 was the last time anyone with more than five brain cells willingly died in an attack.

I'd bet you could find more if they thought their lives would be spent usefully.

mod Dow2n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46849663)

achieve any of the 7he rain..we can be

Film at ten (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 9 months ago | (#46849693)

Insider threats are the most serious challenge confronting pretty much anything.

Two Issues (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 9 months ago | (#46849721)

This goes far beyond a nuclear issue. Sadly the US has narrowed its definition of mental illness severely. Whether it be a worker in a power plant or some troubled fool wanting to shoot up a school we simply have no effective way to identify and treat many off the wall personalities and worse yet we have not been willing to square off against certain glaring facts. For example if a person is sexually attracted to young children they are mentally ill. The desire is in itself the proof. The same applies to murderers who have a desire to kill others. They are not sane even though they appear to be. One could even state that when a murder occurs over financial lusts that such a lust defines a mentally ill person. After all most people do not value wealth to a point that they will kill to get money or property. Since we don't confront these issues anywhere else we also do not confront these issues when we hire nuclear power workers or commercial aviation pilots or other positions in which a twisted system of desires resides within a person.

Re:Two Issues (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about 9 months ago | (#46850241)

Uhm, not sure what exactly you're focusing on. Are you saying that lots of people are mentally ill, and shouldn't be allowed to do something like work anywhere dangerous, which is just about everywhere?

I would argue that one of the big problems is the stigmatization of mental illness. Here in the states the idea of even seeing a psychiatrist is met with scorn. Employers won't hire those people, and many people will treat them as though they were infectious. If it's something that may lead to violence then they're just locked up. Not exactly an environment that encourages treatment. Instead people tend to suffer through it, or just snap.

It's the same problem the US has with illegal drugs. If someone wants to get clean they can't just check themselves into a halfway house. Not only would it show up on any background check, including ones by apartments, but they would also end up arrested and thrown in jail.

The biggest danger from nuclear (0)

jgotts (2785) | about 9 months ago | (#46850365)

The biggest danger from nuclear is acute exposure and death to thousands and perhaps millions of human and humanlike species in the future as storage facilities are pilfered over the next 1,000,000-10,000,000 years.

How many of you could read a warning written in cuneiform? That language is one of the earliest known languages and is only about 5,000 years old. Let's say that most people in the world can probably only read a language that's 500 years old or less, and may struggle with earlier written versions, if there were any. Maybe you're lucky enough to read 2000+ year old Hebrew. But that's just one language. What about all of the other written languages from 2,000 years ago? And what about cuneiform or Egyptian hieroglyphics or ancient Greek? Ancient Chinese?

How in the hell are people supposed to read warnings written in any 2014 Earth language 50,000 years into the future, let alone 500,000 years into the future? That's 10 and 100 times longer than we've written down any language. 5,000,000 years of intelligibility is what we really need. That's why I see a nuclear holocaust to come not from a detonation but from innocent explorers long disconnected from our language and culture.

Earth will only be safe until all nuclear waste is off the planet, or we come up with a way to transform it into substances no more dangerous than what was on this planet before the nuclear age. We cannot assume constant technological progress for millions of years. The entire lifespan of our species is only 200,000 years, and only 70,000 years ago we nearly went extinct.

radiation 101, page 1: half-life (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#46850893)

One of the first things to understand about radioactive materials is "half-life". Half-life is how long it takes for the material to radiate half of its energy. A short half-life material radiates significant energy in a short time. A long half-life means it takes a long time to radiate siginificantly.

Suppose a particular material has enough radioactive energy that 1/10th of the energy would do significant damage. If it has a half-life ten days and you swallowed it, you'd get sick after 10 days / 10 = 1 day. On the other hand, if it has a half-life of 5,000 years you'd get sick in 5,000 / 10 = 500 years after you swallowed it.

So the stuff with a 5,000 year half-life is actually safe to eat - you'll die of natural causes long before the radiation affects you. This is a very good thing, because carrots and potatoes are in this class.

The stuff with a 1 year half-life you wouldn't want to eat - it would make you sick in five weeks. On the other hand, since it expels half of its radiation every year, after just a few years the radiation is mostly gone.

Re:radiation 101, page 1: half-life (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46851283)

Sure, you can eat as many carrots and potatoes and probably bananas as you like without worrying about the radiation. And in practical terms, you simply can't stack enough of them up to be a problem for people standing next to them for any length of time that people will be standing next to them, even if they work on a banana plantation. But what comes out of a nuclear reactor ain't carrots and potatoes, or even bananas.

Sigh. How does a five minute posting delay make Slashdot better? If you could only have one browser tab, it might do. That's not how the internets work. I wonder if anyone has written a greasemonkey extension to periodically resubmit a slashdot post until it is accepted.

yes, bananas are far more dangerous. Air stops Pu (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#46851449)

> But what comes out of a nuclear reactor ain't carrots and potatoes, or even bananas.

Indeed, long half-life waste is FAR safer. The main waste material with a long half-life is plutonium 239. Pu 239 radiates alpha particles. Alpha particles are stopped by tissue paper, by 10 cm of air, and by skin. It is strongly recommended that you keep some skin or air in between the plutonium and your vital organs - eating it is not recommended. (In my previous post I should have said "store it under your bed" rather than "eat it".
A long as you don't eat it, it's safe to have around the house.

Note that's for plutonium - the stuff that lasts a long time. Uranium releases its radiation much faster, meaning you should stay away from it for a few years until it has decayed.

Re:radiation 101, page 1: half-life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46851379)

The biggest threat from a lot of the long half life materials is not the radiation but the toxicity of the metals themselves. Eating a table spoon of plutonium wont kill you via radiation but through heavy metal poisoning.

Re:radiation 101, page 1: half-life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46852549)

Your math is wrong, but your point still remains (mostly) correct.

I should have said "if 1/20th" (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 8 months ago | (#46852727)

Yeah, you're right. Half in ten days is not 1/10th in one day, of course. It's about 1/20th, not 1/10th, on the first day. So I should have said "if 1/20th would do significant damage".

Re:The biggest danger from nuclear (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 8 months ago | (#46854669)

How many of you could read a warning written in cuneiform? That language is one of the earliest known languages and is only about 5,000 years old.

Cuneiform isn't a language.

Insider threats. (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 9 months ago | (#46850371)

Yeah, insider threat-- it's called incompetence. Things like building a reactor on a fault line, building a reactor on the Pacific rim shoreline (need the water, right? Hello Tsunami). We thought we could build a steamship that couldn't sink, too, but we were wrong. The fact there's been a significant nuclear accident every couple of decades. They're usually connected with gross incompetence of some form or other, in either the design or operation. How many Chernobyls and Fukushimas do we have to have before we prove we can make reactors work, but we can't make them safe enough to risk it?

Re:Insider threats. (1)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 9 months ago | (#46850377)

And probably more important, who gets to decide that, and why?

No surprise and also irrelevant (1)

blindseer (891256) | about 9 months ago | (#46850547)

Pointing out that the greatest security threat comes from the inside is first day stuff in any training on security. This is effectively scaremongering over nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are the most secure places in the USA outside of a military base or prison.

I was once invited to take a tour of a nuclear power plant. I thought that would be fun. Problem was that I was told I'd have to go through a background check to go on the property. That was a buzz kill. It's not that I thought I would not pass the background check but that it was a reminder of the paranoia that surrounds anything nuclear. I doubted I would see anything remotely interesting at that point. I've toured power plants before. I didn't feel the need to be strip searched to see another turbine hall, electric switching yard, and the outside of the reactor building.

That brings me to why the security inside a nuclear power plant is largely irrelevant. Anyone that wanted to bring down a nuclear power plant can do so without getting near the fence on the property. The electricity wires that go to the power plant are unguarded, it's impossible to guard them all. So, if someone brings down enough power lines the plant will have to shut down. Recent attacks on the electric infrastructure are speculated to be tests of our ability to react. If true then we could see a coordinated attack on the electric grid soon.

The other reason why security around nuclear power plants is irrelevant is because accessing anything actually fissile is dangerous. The radiation from the fuel would kill anyone that got within a few feet of it without gobs of gear. Getting it off site in time before National Guard battle tanks got there would be near impossible. It would be much easier to extract the nuclear material from seawater than try to get it from an active nuclear reactor.

Or, it'd be easier to pay off the people that have access to it. Which is what the article gave as an unsurprising point.

If we want nuclear power to be safe what we need is actually less of a veil of secrecy around it. People notice stuff, and they report it to law enforcement if the stuff is worthy of it. More people around the nuclear power plant means more people to see what is going on. Let people tour the plants without having to provide fingerprints. All that does is reduce the number of eyeballs watching things.

Getting into a nuclear power plant should not be more difficult than, for example, visiting a county courthouse. People get in line for a metal detector and a deputy keeps an eye out for odd behavior. If a guy in a long overcoat shows up sweating profusely on a hot day then that person might need another look. It'd probably be someone that forgot to take their meds that day, either way that person should have a chat with law enforcement before going further. Terrorists are not out to get us that bad. If they were we'd have constant blackouts from power lines getting blown up. That's easier to do and there's no metal detectors.

Another way to improve nuclear power plant security is with better designs. Don't use reactors that need refined fuel. Use reactors that dilute fissile material with short half life isotopes. Anyone that tries to steal any will get a deadly dose of radiation for their troubles. Use thorium reactors. Use denatured uranium reactors. Use molten salt reactors. With a good design there is nothing worth stealing and little radiation hazard if there is a successful attack. We'd still need security, of course, but no more than any other industrial location.

No danger (1)

hajile (2457040) | about 9 months ago | (#46850953)

We spent decades with the all United States nuclear launchcodes at 00000000 and having that practically pasted on the refridgerator in the lunchroom. If nobody was willing to act on that, I doubt they would act on a much less appealing target like a nuclear facility.

Tampering in 2013 at Browns Ferry (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 9 months ago | (#46851177)

"The Near-Miss

The NRC sent an SIT to the plant in response to the potential tampering of a fuel oil line for an emergency diesel generator that was discovered on May 26, 2013. Reflecting the NRC’s post-9/11 procedures, the SIT report on the problems and their remedies is not publicly available. However, the cover letter sent to the plant owner with the SIT report is publicly available, and indicates that the agency identified one violation it classified as Severity Level IV (Reis 2013a)." http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/d... [ucsusa.org]

The flip side (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 8 months ago | (#46852059)

Insiders are responsible for the greatest number of security issues.... so far. The NRC runs external attack exercise from time to time and plants end up showing vulnerabilities. Security guards are found asleep on duty. Spent fuel pools are not hardened against artillery or aerial bombardment. Collapse the spent fuel racks and you'll get a a meltdown scaled to a reactor many times the size of the reactor on site.

So in other words, who is the next Snowden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46852373)

Who is the inside threat, the one who will steal material and run off to those who shouldn't have them (Iran? N. Korea?). Cook up some half-assed story about how it is being done for us, and we'll think him a hero!

Insider Threats greatest risk? Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46854639)

Welcome to security 101. Insider threats are almost always the ones likely to do the most harm. Doesn't mean they can really do much harm is some cases, but if you don't consider it way up on the list of risks to mitigate you're not competant to do security risk assessment.

I guess a polysci guy considers his insight stunning. Maybe next week he'll make breakthrough insights like water wet, ice cold...

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