Just in time for 9/11 anniversary security at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear plant is on vacation

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power plant on the Chesapeake Bay.

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power plant on the Chesapeake Bay.

 

The Maryland State Police was asked to comment on how security could be so lax at the Calvert Cliff’s Nuclear Power Plant…they referred questions to the security department of the power plant.

The Calvert County Sheriff’s website has a section entitled ” Special Operations and Homeland Security”  The Special Operations and Homeland Security Bureau consists of the Special Operations Team and the Homeland Security function:   This section of the website is blank…perhaps the effort of the Calvert Sheriff’s Office to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security and the Nuclear Plant is either a secret or…nonexistent.

The United States Coast Guard routinely announces special security zones for the Potomac River during Presidential Inaugurations and State of the Union addresses.
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY requested whether or not the Coast Guard has established security zones for Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant or Cove Point LNG Plant for the 9/11 anniversary.  Two years ago on the anniversary of 9/11, terrorists attacked the United States consulate at Ben Ghazi Libya and murdered four Americans, including the American Ambassador.

A Coast Guard spokesman told THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY on Tuesday evening that no senior officers were available to respond to questions about security for Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant or the Cove Point LNG plant as they were all busy with arrangements for the visit of tall ships to Baltimore for the Star Spangled Spectacular celebration – beginning on Sept. 11th.  While security is important for such a prominent soft-target as the tall ship display, the padlocked security post at Calvert Cliffs is an indication of general lack of security by land or sea.

UPDATE from the U. S. Coast Guard:

After the terror attacks on Sept. 11, the Coast Guard was transferred from the Dept. of Transportation to the newly-formed Dept. of Homeland Security.  Today, we work closely with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety and security of the nation. As a DHS agency, we constantly assess risks to our ports, waterways and shoreside facilities.  As America’s guardian, our Coast Guard units routinely conduct security patrols of our waterways, and we work with waterside facilities and our port partners in the development and approval of their security plans.  There are permanent security zones in place for both Cove Point and Calvert Cliffs.  These security zones are detailed in 33 CFR 165.502 and 165.505 respectively.  There is also a security zone in place within 500 yards of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vessels while transiting, anchored, or moored within the Baltimore Captain of the Port zone.  These regulations can be found in 33 CFR 165.500.  The Cove Point LNG facility is a U.S. Coast Guard regulated facility, and as such, follows all applicable security regulations under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and has a USCG approved facility security plan.  In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard has a Memorandum of Agreement with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office to provide additional security as needed.

However, the Coast Guard does not discuss specific security measures, policies or procedures in how or when we conduct security operations – doing so would compromise the integrity of those security measures. In regards to these specific facilities, the Coast Guard will continue to conducts security patrols near and around the facilities, but we cannot disclose any specific plans, as it would compromise our efforts.

The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant is not regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, but rather the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and any questions about specific security measures should be directed to the NRC.

From The Daily Caller

LUSBY, Md. — About 50 miles outside Washington D.C. is a nuclear power plant that sits on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the sort of place the government has warned is vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

But an investigation conducted by The Daily Caller found that anybody can enter the property of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, drive through the front gates, park not far from a nuclear reactor and have no contact of any kind with security.

Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans with President George W. Bush at Calvert Cliffs. The security for the plant was likely higher the day President Bush visited...maybe. Photo courtesy of Sheriff Evan's election website and the taxpayers.

Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans with President George W. Bush at Calvert Cliffs. The security for the plant was likely higher the day President Bush visited…maybe. Photo courtesy of Sheriff Evan’s election website and the taxpayers.

A reporter and videographer drove from the nation’s capital last Friday to Calvert Cliffs and twice accessed the power plant site. No one stopped or even seemed to notice them.

TheDC was able to proceed through an unmanned security checkpoint — the guard booth was empty and padlocked — and, minutes later, enter a parking lot about 550 feet away from one of the plant’s two nuclear reactors.

On one visit, reporters did not see a single security guard anywhere. On a subsequent visit, a lone marked security car passed by without slowing down or asking questions.

At one point, a large civilian truck — roughly of the size of the trucks used in terror bombings around the world, including at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 — rolled through the front gates and approached the reactors without being stopped.

TheDC visited Calvert Cliffs after being alerted by someone who recently visited the nuclear facility last month and became concerned about the apparent lack of security.

“That facility is the softest target I have ever seen in my life,” the visitor recalled.

The Obama administration has oversight of the physical protection of nuclear plants through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose commissioners are appointed by the president. The commission sets security requirements for plants like Calvert Cliffs.

A spokeswoman for the commission on Monday defended the state of security at Calvert Cliffs. Told of the padlocked guardhouse and lack of visible security teams, spokeswoman Diane Screnci responded this way: “Based on the security inspections we’ve conducted on an on-going basis, security at Calvert Cliffs is appropriate to protect the public health and safety.”

Cove Point LNG gas plant dock in Chesapeake Bay

Cove Point LNG gas plant dock in Chesapeake Bay

Kory Raftery, a spokesman for the plant’s owner, Exelon Corporation, told TheDC that manned checkpoints are “not required” at all nuclear power plants. He said the corporation’s nuclear power plants are “highly-secure, virtually impenetrable facilities.”

“The fences and checkpoints you see at Calvert Cliffs are only a small part of our defense in depth security strategy,” he said. “In fact, much of our defense lies in the things you can’t see.”

Asked why the plant maintains a checkpoint if no officers work in it, Raftery replied: “Nuclear security is always evolving. I can’t get into too many details, but redeployment enhanced overall site security, increased safety for our officers and provided more effective use of resources.”

Yet according to experts, a visible security presence is vital, because it may deter terrorists from targeting a facility in the first place.

“Part of security is to have a visible defense so that it doesn’t attract adversaries who might see this kind of weakness to exploit,” observes Dr. Edwin Lyman, an expert in nuclear terrorism at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In an interview Monday, Lyman said that he has heard a number of complaints recently that nuclear power plants around the country lack adequate security.

“What I think has happened lately,” Lyman said. “Is the industry has really let those owner-controlled areas protections just completely erode. And so they’re leaving the checkpoints unmanned all the time and not doing surveillance of the areas so people can enter the owner controlled area without any problem or detection. And I think that’s a problem.”

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