OCTOBER 07, 2010
In a chilling example of the government’s failure to protect nuclear plants from terrorists, a suspected Al Qaeda operative spent six years working at various facilities in the northeast with unescorted access to secure interior areas.
The admitted Islamic jihadist (Sharif Mobley) is currently imprisoned for terrorist activities in Yemen, where he has been charged with murdering a hospital guard during an escape attempt. During the years that he worked at nuclear plants in
Incredibly, he frequented secure, interior areas of the plants that are supposed to be accessed only by employees who pass a background investigation, criminal record check and psychological assessment. Because Mobley was considered a temporary worker who traveled between facilities, the rules evidently didn’t apply to him.
This unbelievable case was cited by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) inspector general as an example of the need for tighter security. As the federal agency that regulates commercial nuclear power plants, the NRC has been negligent and needs to better screen individuals who are granted unescorted access to nuclear facilities.
In a report that’s been heavily redacted for public release, the NRC’s watchdog recommends improving employee training on how to detect and report “behaviors associated with terrorist intent.” It also suggests frequent checks of employees from a nuclear industry personnel database against terrorist watch lists and requiring disclosure of foreign travel by plant workers who could be questioned about their activities abroad.
While some of this may sound like common sense, it took a lengthy inspector general investigation and a 36-page report to suggest obvious measures that could prevent a nuclear attack or radiological sabotage.
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