Additional Improvements Needed in Physical Security at Nuclear Powerplants

RCED-83-141: Published: Jul 13, 1983. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1983.

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GAO reviewed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) performance of its regulatory responsibilities for ensuring the adequacy of physical security at commercial nuclear powerplants. The review focused on recommendations made in a 1977 GAO report, with an overall objective of evaluating the vulnerability of nuclear powerplants to attempted acts of sabotage.

GAO found that many of the weaknesses noted in the earlier report have been corrected and that physical security systems at commercial nuclear powerplants have been substantially improved. However, there are areas where further improvements in security can be made. First, while NRC regulations require all powerplants to protect against the threat of sabotage from internal sources, NRC has not established criteria for ensuring the integrity of nuclear powerplant employees. Second, some licensees and NRC officials believe that certain physical security requirements are in conflict with the safety of nuclear powerplants. NRC is considering actions aimed at addressing both of these areas: (1) NRC staff is working on a proposed personnel screening requirements rule which is designed to establish a standard on the reliability and trustworthiness of plant employees; and (2) NRC established a safety review committee to address that issue.

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