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2TERRORIST ATTACKS ON SPENT FUEL STORAGE

This chapter addresses the final charge to the committee to “explicitly consider the risks of terrorist attacks on [spent fuel] and the risk these materials might be used to construct a radiological dispersal device.” The concept of risk as applied to terrorist attacks underpins the entire statement of task for this study. Therefore, the committee addresses this final charge first to provide the basis for addressing the remainder of the task statement.

The chapter is organized into the following sections:

• Background on risk.

• Terrorist attack scenarios.

• Risks of terrorist attacks on spent fuel storage facilities.

• Findings and recommendations.

2.1BACKGROUND ON RISK

“Risk” is a function of three factors (Kaplan and Garrick, 1981):

• The scenario describing the undesirable event,

• The probability that the scenario will occur.

• The consequences if the scenario should occur.

In the context of the present report, a scenario describes the modes and mechanisms of a possible terrorist attack against a spent fuel storage facility. For example, a scenario might involve a suicide attack with a hijacked civilian airliner. Another might involve a ground assault with a truck bomb. Several such scenarios are described later in this chapter and discussed in more detail in the committee’s classified report.

Probability is a dimensionless quantity that expresses the likelihood that a given scenario will occur over a specified time period. If the occurrence of a scenario is judged to be impossible, it would have a probability of 0.0. On the other hand, if the scenario were judged to be certain, it has a probability of 1.0. A scenario that had a 50 percent chance of occurrence during the period contemplated would have a probability of 0.5.

Consequences describe the undesirable results if the scenario were to occur. For example, a terrorist attack on a spent fuel storage facility could release ionizing radiation to the environment.1 The exposure of the public to this radiation could have both deterministic and stochastic effects. The former would occur from short-term exposures to very high doses of ionizing radiation, the latter to smaller doses that might have no immediate effects

 1 Terrorist scenarios and consequences are being described here for the sake of Illustration. One should not conclude from this description that the committee believes that such consequences would necessarily occur as the result of a terrorist attack on a spent fuel storage facility.

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About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the TERRORIST ATTACKS ON SPENT FUEL STORAGE 32 FIGURE 2.1 Commercial nuclear power plant sites are demarcated as shown for security purposes. The part of the power plant site over which the plant operator exercises control is referred to as the owner-controlled area. This usually corresponds to the boundary of the site. Located within this area are one or more protected areas to which access is restricted using guards, fences, and other barriers. Dry cask storage facilities, formally referred to as independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSIs), are located within these areas. The vital area of the plant contains the reactor core, support buildings, and the spent fuel pool. It is the most carefully controlled and guarded part of the plant site. SOURCE: Modified from Nuclear Regulatory Commission briefing materials (2004). detecting, thwarting, or impeding attacks. The Commission staff declined to provide a formal briefing to the committee on the DBT for radiological sabotage, asserting that the committee did not have a need to know this information. Nevertheless, the committee was able to discern the details of the DBT from a series of presentations made by Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff. Commission staff also provided a fact check of this information as the classified report was being finalized. Power plant operators are required to demonstrate to the Commission's satisfaction that there is “high assurance” that their guard forces can thwart the Commission-defined DBT assault. This guard force also must be able to provide deterrence against a beyond-DBT attack depending on the adversarial force. Reinforcing forces print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. would be provided by local and state law enforcement as well as federal forces. The Commission staff also informed the committee that since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Commission has been working with DHS to improve coordination procedures with federal, state, and local agencies to improve their response capabilities in the event of an attack. DHS also is making grants to local law enforcement agencies around power plant sites to raise their capabilities to respond to requests for assistance.

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