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Mon Apr 22, 2013, 12:51 PM

 

Gunman Sought After Shootout at Nuclear Power Plant in Tennessee

Police are looking for a suspect who used a boat to access a Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plant Sunday morning and exchanged fire with a security guard on the plant grounds before fleeing downriver.

The shootout occurred "several hundred yards from the site’s protected area, which houses the reactor and power production facilities," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said in a press release.

A security guard on routine rounds reportedly spotted the suspect leaving his boat and walking ashore about 2 a.m. When the guard advanced to question the suspect, the lone man began shooting. The guard returned fire and called for backup. The suspect then "sped away on his boat," according to a local news report.

Authorities labeled the shootout an "unusual event," the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's lowest emergency classification.

Opened in 1996, Watts Bar is in southeastern Tennessee between Chattanooga and Knoxville. Nearly 1.2 million people live within a 50-mile radius of the plant, and population growth since 2000 has been rapid.

There was never any immediate danger to the plant's reactor
, and it's not clear how much damage a lone gunner could actually do to a complex like Watts Bar. Coincidentally, federal authorities just ran their first-ever nuclear terrorism drill last Tuesday at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. In that simulation, a team of eight gunmen attempted to take over the plant; government spokesmen would only say publicly that that the plant's response was "adequate."


http://gawker.com/gunman-sought-after-shootout-at-nuclear-power-plant-in-476883322

"There was never any immediate danger to the plant's reactor" LOL. Right, a person with a gun does not present "any" danger to the reactor.

I hope we don't have to wait until after the next nuclear disaster to eliminate this dirty, dangerous fuel from a bygone era.

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply Gunman Sought After Shootout at Nuclear Power Plant in Tennessee (Original post)
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 OP
Myrina Apr 2013 #1
Tom Rinaldo Apr 2013 #2
FBaggins Apr 2013 #3
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #6
FBaggins Apr 2013 #7
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #10
NickB79 Apr 2013 #11
FBaggins Apr 2013 #12
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #15
FBaggins Apr 2013 #20
TheMadMonk Apr 2013 #4
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #8
TheMadMonk Apr 2013 #24
oldhippie Apr 2013 #5
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #9
NickB79 Apr 2013 #13
FBaggins Apr 2013 #16
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #17
FBaggins Apr 2013 #14
oldhippie Apr 2013 #21
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #29
oldhippie Apr 2013 #18
grahamhgreen Apr 2013 #26
Posteritatis Apr 2013 #28
Tom Rinaldo Apr 2013 #19
FBaggins Apr 2013 #22
onethatcares Apr 2013 #23
NutmegYankee Apr 2013 #25
Posteritatis Apr 2013 #27
SidDithers Apr 2013 #30

Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 12:58 PM

1. "adequate" really doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling ...

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Response to Myrina (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 01:08 PM

2. My thought exactly, but WTF? Was that one person doing advance work for a real attack?

I will say that I am glad at least that the simulation at TMI involved an attack by 8 gunmen. I may be mistaken, but I think in the past the NRC tended to expect that security at Nuclear Power plants only had to be sufficient to face smaller numbers than that. But in any attack on a non heavily fortified complex, 8 people can be a formidable force. They might be repelled in one instance but succeed in another, so much depends on so many variables, and even to an extent on luck good or bad.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 01:31 PM

3. No... a person with a gun does not present any danger to a reactor.

This isn't a library/school/church or public area - nor is it a Bourne novel. A gun doesn't get you through multiple layers of defense. You can't possibly harm the reactor from outside and you can't get into the control room just because you have a gun (they have many more and are better trained at using them)... even if you knew how to screw something up within the control room (and few could).

A gun doesn't make you Superman.

Here's an example: Two or three layes of fencing with razor wire filling the gaps - and a guard tower standing watch. What would a gun do for you? What would even a .50cal machine gun do for you? - and that's a looong way before you get to anywhere that you can impact the reactor.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 02:42 PM

6. Agreed. But who knows what else this individual or individuals were up to!

 

Guy with a gun escaping on a boat. There is definitional SOME level of threat there.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 02:45 PM

7. "Some level of threat" to other people...

... not to a reactor.

A guy running around the Washington Monument with an AK47 is a threat too... but not to the monument.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 02:57 PM

10. The monument can not melt down by simply shutting down its cooling systems, the reactor can.

 

Say the individual (was it a man?) is a trained terrorist with a specific task, perhaps they are even aided by others (as in the test).

They enter the plant and shut down the cooling system. What is the result? Fukushima.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:04 PM

11. You don't shut down a cooling system by flipping a switch

This isn't a Hollywood movie where you'll find a big red "Self-Destruct" button on the control panel.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:07 PM

12. A guy with a gun can't "shut down the cooling system"

They enter the plant

And we're right back to a gun not getting you anywhere near the controls of the cooling system. Nor can it teach you how to operate same (or even recognize the controlls).

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:12 PM

15. Your assuming 1) the individual is not trained in how to operate the plant.

 

2) they are alone.
3) the operators will not co-operate with the gunman under threat of execution.

Now, one guy with a gun has a long way to go (if that's all it was), but to say there is NO threat is a misstatement.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #15)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 04:02 PM

20. I don't have to assume anything...

... because you were willing to scoff at the notion that there was no threat back when it was just a guy with a gun.

1) the individual is not trained in how to operate the plant.

A pretty safe assumption. But even if not... they need to get past many defenses before that's even relevant.

2) they are alone.

A dozen guys with handguns wouldn't be much more of a threat. See below - but one guy taking pot shots hundreds of feet from the fence makes it less likely that there's a group of terrorists in the bushes.

3) the operators will not co-operate with the gunman under threat of execution.

Would you put a grenade up to your neck and pull the pin if someone held a gun to your head and threatened you? But no... I don't need to assume that because they can't get to the operators to threaten them.

but to say there is NO threat is a misstatement.

Nope. By that logic, a ladybug is a threat because there might be a guy with a backpack nuke behind the ladybug. The ladybug still isn't a threat. If you want to imagine 100 Spetznaz commandos hiding in the woods with 100 Navy Seals who have gone rogue while this guy takes pot shots an individual guard... fine. But he is still no threat to the reactor.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 01:44 PM

4. If it were that frigging easy, terrorists would have taken over years ago.

 

And perhaps you might try to find a mirror, because apart from the subject, I can find little to distinguish you from an anti-vaxer, pro-lifer, or gun nut in your devotion to cause.

Fair means or foul, facts be damned, you will have it your way.

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Response to TheMadMonk (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 02:49 PM

8. That's why the terror threat has been so obviously over-hyped. However, ALL

 

of our nuclear plants pose a threat.

The guy escaped in a boat. What's to prevent him from loading up a boat with a fertilizer bomb for his next attack? Or an airplane?

Then compare and contrast a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant with an attack on a wind farm.

Waiting for the next nuclear disaster or successful terror attack on a nuclear plant to shut these things down is not what I consider intelligent.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:08 PM

24. Fertiliser bomb iin a boat still won't do it. IIRC those places are hardened...

 

...to take a direct impact from anything smaller than a 737.

While we're playing comparison games, let's crash that jet liner into a chemical plant or oil refinery.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 01:54 PM

5. And what, exactly, do you think "a person with a gun" ...

 

... is going to do to a reactor?

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Response to oldhippie (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 02:54 PM

9. It's what he represents, he got away. There is some threat to the reactor when a

 

person with a gun can exchange fire at a nuclear facility and then boat away.

Let's say in a simple case he shoots his way in there, is a trained nuclear physicist or plant operator, shuts off all the cooling systems and holds the workers hostage - what would be the worst possible result? Nuclear devestation, meltdown, contamination for thousands of years.

Now, what if the person took over a wind farm. What is the worst possible result? Wind spillage????

You can not laugh away real security threats posed by the nuclear power industry.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:07 PM

13. Realistically? SWAT storms the reactor and restarts the cooling system

It would take days for the rods to reach melt-down phase. If it got close with no negotiations working, they'd simply sacrifice the hostages and restart the cooling system. It would suck, but that's what would be done.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:14 PM

16. I'll disagree there.

If you actually could shut off the cooling system of an operating reactor and disable emergency cooling... it could melt down very fast.

Remember that Fukushima's operating reactors had been turned off for almost an hour before they lost their generators. There's a dramatic difference in the amount of heat produced in the core in that first hour.

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:15 PM

17. Which is at least some level of threat to the reactor.

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:09 PM

14. How does he "shoot his way in there"?

Quite a large number of armed people cannot "shoot their way in there". Some drunk hunter whose girlfriend works at the plant and just broke up with him is pretty much limited to this. Exchange fire with a security guard 100-200 yards from a fence he could never get through.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #14)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 04:25 PM

21. Exactly. One does not "shoot their way into" ......

 

.... a high security installation. Due to the work I used to do, I've been in a few, including the NMCC in the Pentagon, Raven Rock Mountain, CIA HQ, the basement of the big black building at Fort Meade, Cheyenne Mountain, and a few others that I won't mention. I've been in the control room of a nuclear plant (though it is now closed). They are all specifically designed to prevent any number of people being able to "shoot their way in." They are protected by dedicated people and sophisticated systems and procedures. There are vulnerabilities, which I obviously won't go into, but armed assault by persons with guns isn't one of them.

The weakest security I ever saw was the perimeter around the USS Alaska as it was being reloaded with new warheads for it's Trident missiles. I was hoping that there was a lot of security that I wasn't seeing.

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Response to oldhippie (Reply #21)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:44 PM

29. What worries me is the cavalier attitude,

 

I wouldn't quibble with "little" danger, but I would with "any".

I've been around a few.... places where the security was questionable.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:47 PM

18. Piffle! I laugh away .....

 

..... your simple case fantasy. You have obviously never been inside a high security installation, much less a nuclear plant control room.

This is not a James Bond film.

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Response to oldhippie (Reply #18)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:36 PM

26. BS. I have been in too many.

 

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Response to grahamhgreen (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:39 PM

28. After a certain point hypothetical scenarios are a little too absurd. (nt)

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Response to oldhippie (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 03:58 PM

19. Reconnaissance.

The fact that he was armed could be explained by him not wanting to be apprehended during a reconnaissance mission if he were to be discovered. A terror group willing to take down a reactor would not hesitate to kill a security guard if need be in the course of their "mission". I strongly suspect that the fact that this intruder was armed made it more difficult for the security person who spotted him to capture him before he escaped, given his own need for self preservation.

Now of course this is mere speculation, but reconnaissance is a plausible explanation that could explain the motivation of the individual who escaped and how his activity could have ultimately put that reactor at risk had he not been seen.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Reply #19)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 06:21 PM

22. Pretty unlikely

Anything you can see from outside the fence is pretty easy to pick up from public sources.

And based on the description of where the event tool place (near an old boat launch a quarter mile from the perimeter)... he may not have even been able to see the plant apart from the cooling towers.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 06:26 PM

23. well, if that was an unusual event

I wonder what they consider "usual"?

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:14 PM

25. The reactor is contained within a concrete containment building.

Bullets would just bounce off of it.

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:37 PM

27. I should hope that constitutes an "unusual event." (nt)

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Response to grahamhgreen (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:49 PM

30. Tennessee has a Nuke Event

http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/index.php?pageid=event_desc&edis_id=NC-20130422-38940-USA

Nuclear Event in USA on Monday, 22 April, 2013 at 03:24 (03:24 AM) UTC.

A security officer patrolling near a Tennessee nuclear power plant Sunday exchanged gunfire with an individual, Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said. The NRC Region II staff began monitoring the Watts Bar plant near Spring City, approximately 60 miles southwest of Knoxville, after the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operated the plant, notified the NRC of the incident, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The incident occurred about a quarter mile outside the plant's protected area, the news sources said, adding the officer was not injured. Watts Bar plant officials declared an unusual event, the lowest of the NRC's four emergency classifications.


That's how you're supposed to report stuff like this.

Sid

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