Study Finds Nuclear Facilities Vulnerable to Attack

Access to information on nuclear security has been hard to come by, but some information has been surfacing that raises concerns about the security of America's nuclear power plants. Since 9/11, nuclear reactors and chemical plants have received considerable attention with critics calling for stronger government requirements and oversight to better ensure the safety of neighboring communities.

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Chemical Security Update: Homeland Security Amendment

The Senate passed the Department of Homeland Security FY2005 appropriations bill (H.R. 4567) this week, although a chemical security amendment, introduced by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), was tabled.

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New Report Explores Chemical Dangers from Power Plants

A new report by the Working Group on Community Right-to-Know estimates that 3.5 million Americans living near some 225 non-nuclear power plants are at risk from leaks or releases of gaseous ammonia or chlorine. It calls for these plants to switch to safer alternatives to ensure the safety of surrounding communities.

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Government Web Secrecy Doesn't Provide Security

A recent report by the RAND Corporation reveals that information scrubbed from government websites after the Sept. 11 attacks were unnecessary and unproductive in protecting against terrorism. Many government agencies have removed extensive amounts of information from their websites on the remote chance it could be misused by terrorists. The RAND report establishes that the agencies' approach of viewing information only as a threat and not considering the benefits is erroneous.

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Nuclear Insecurity Under DOE

A new Department of Energy (DOE) regulation could threaten safety standards at nuclear weapons facilities nationwide. At the same time, findings by DOE’s watchdog office reveal that nuclear facilities cheated during mock attacks.

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NRC Secrecy Unlikely to Lead to Security for Neighbors

While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued new security standards for nuclear power plants defending against terrorist attacks, residents near these plants are unlikely to even be aware of them. The standards have been developed without the consultation of key groups, and most of the new rules are not being made public.

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$28 Billion Question Mark

The Pentagon has spent almost all of the $28.5 billion in “emergency-response” funds allocated to them by Congress in the year after the September 11th attacks. However, almost nothing is available to the public explaining how the taxpayer’s money was spent. Apparently, even confidential reports to congressional staff leave too many questions about the expenditures unanswered.

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Chemical Security Re-Emerges in Senate

During the last session of Congress, Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) made a tremendous effort to move a Chemical Security Bill that would require chemical plants to assess their vulnerabilities and take steps to reduce the risk they pose to surrounding communities. Unfortunately, due largely to efforts by the chemical industry to oppose the bill, Corzine’s bill was blocked from ever being considered by the full Senate.

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Compromise on Chemical Security

There have been plans to offer Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) Chemical Security Act as an amendment to the Senate’s bill to establish a new department of Homeland Security. However, since the homeland bill has been taking so long in the Senate there is a strong probability that no controversial amendments are going to be allowed. Facing such a situation, there is tremendous pressure to water down Sen. Corzine’s bill to make it palatable for everyone. Sen. James Inhofe (R- OK) appears to be the lead for negotiating a compromise with Corzine. Unfortunately, the compromises being discussed go so far that they may make the bill essentially useless.

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Different Opinion on Chemical Security

OMB Watch responded to a recent Washington Times Op-ed, entitled "Toxic road map for terrorists" with this letter to the editor.

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