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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Chemical Security Heats Up

Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ)

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The Need to Reduce Risks Demonstrated

A recent chemical accident reinforced the importance of Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D-NJ) pending legislation, the Chemical Security Act (S.1602). In Crystal City, MO, a hose used to remove chlorine from freight cars ruptured creating a toxic cloud that sickened dozens. The leak began around 9:30 in the morning on August 14, 2002 and was stopped around noon.

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Chemical Plant Security Act Approved in Senate Committee

On July 25 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved S. 1602, a substitute version of the bill originally offered by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) in October 2001, that would require each chemical plant to address its vulnerability to a terrorist attack. Under the bill, plants must submit plans to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing how they will address their vulnerabilities. As this article points out, chemical plants have many hazards that could be removed to make them safer in the case of an accident or a terrorist attack. This could mean substituting safer chemicals or storing smaller quantities of hazardous chemicals on site. This August 5 Washington Post article points out that there continues to be concern for security at chemical plants and reports that Bush administration officials are pushing for measures very similar to those in the Corzine legislation.

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Confidential Interim Report on Chemical Plant Safety Stirs Little Reaction in Congress

In 1999, President Clinton signed the Chemical Safety Information, Site Security and Fuels Regulatory Relief Act (P.L. 106-40), and also directed the Justice Department (DOJ) to conduct a study of site security at chemical plants. An interim report on the study was due August 5, 2000, and the final report was to be completed by August of 2002. DOJ missed the first deadline, offering a lack of funding as the excuse for not getting the interim report out on time.

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