The events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent discovery of commercial nuclear power plants on a list of possible terrorist targets have focused considerable attention on the plants' capabilities to defend against a terrorist attack. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), an independent agency established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 to regulate the civilian use of nuclear materials, is responsible for regulating and overseeing security at commercial nuclear power plants. GAO was asked to review (1) NRC's efforts since September 11, 2001, to improve security at nuclear power plants, including actions NRC has taken to implement some of GAO's September 2003 recommendations to improve security oversight and (2) the extent to which NRC is in a position to assure itself and the public that the plants are protected against terrorist attacks. This testimony reflects the preliminary results of GAO's review. GAO will issue a more comprehensive report in early 2005.
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