Tehran Leaders Among Regimes Capable of Carrying Out EMP Attacks on the U.S.
Feds fear EMP ‘meltdown’ of nuclear power plants
By Paul Bedard
Source: The Washington Examiner
The federal government’s new focus on preventing disaster in a natural or terrorist electromagnetic pulse attack is drawing attention to a lack of testing and preparation at the nation’s nuclear power plants, where a resulting meltdown could cause radiation deaths.
Tucked into the back of a new report from the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force compiled to highlight the EMP threat to U.S. infrastructure and military installations, the nation’s nuclear regulators admitted that the electric generating plants are not prepared for an attack.
What’s more, they don’t know how deadly an attack would be or how far the radioactive “plume” from a meltdown would extend and suggested instead that deaths would first come from an inability to find food and clean water.
“If all engineered and proceduralized mitigation measures failed and a meltdown were to occur, there is a very large uncertainty in off-site consequences,” said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in response to the concerns raised in the report, provided to Secrets.
“The NRC staff has not analyzed scenarios with extended and widespread failure of off-site protective actions, which continue for more than several days. Without prompt protective actions, off-site doses may reach levels where there is an elevated lifetime risk of cancer to off-site populations. For the population, failure of access to food and clean drinking water would likely prove much more hazardous to health and safety,” added the agency.
As for the size of any impact, the NRC said “modeling” suggested that there would be “no early radiation dose fatalities far from the plant.” But it didn’t say how far, prompting the task force to cite about 10 miles.
“More information is needed to determine if the extended plume release (beyond 10 miles) will impact the public and military assets and personnel. The potential release of radiation can trigger panic,” said the task force.
And the NRC apparently won’t protect the energy plants, referred to in the report as the nation’s “crown jewels,” from an attack. The reason: That’s the Pentagon’s job.
The growing concerns about an EMP attack from Iran, China, Russia, or North Korea, or a natural one created by the sun has prompted the Pentagon to take moves to protect some facilities and resulted in the first-ever presidential executive order on the issue.
Sources said that President Trump is about to unveil a second executive order that will “put teeth” into his initial order that called for “improving the nation’s resilience to the effects of EMPs.”
The NRC staff’s responses have raised concerns among members of the task force and national security community who feel the agency isn’t doing enough to protect against EMP attacks, or even test for it.
“We are very glad the NRC has taken a serious interest in these issues as we have and is moving forward with experts and the interagency to assess potential issues. We have some work to do to ensure all potential hazards are well mitigated. It all begins with a candid assessment. That is very much what this dialog was about,” said a task force spokesman.
The agency said that it had run computer simulations of attacks but that plants are not required to protect against an EMP.
It also seemed to dismiss some of the task force’s concerns, including the need for lots of diesel fuel to run generators needed to supply outside energy.
“The NRC will not address threats to their power stations that they feel other agencies should take care,” said a task force member.
In one example, the NRC shrugged off concerns that an EMP attack would even penetrate a nuclear plant. “NRC does not anticipate significant penetration of EMP fields into a nuclear power station due to design of the structures,” it said.
But the task force scolded, “Since no actual testing has been conducted, such assumptions are imprudent. EMP tests conducted on actual equipment show that modeling can be wrong by orders of magnitude. Suggest actual physical testing. USAF nuclear command and control facilities and missile silos are often underground and even covered by tens of feet of concrete and metal rebar. This does not negate the need for EMP hardening. Such facilities are hardened to careful military specifications.”
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