Nuke guards may be armed with machine guns

From PrivateOfficerNewsNetwork:

BUCHANAN NY Sept 14 2009 – Federal regulators are taking steps to allow nuclear plant security guards to carry machine guns and sawed-off shotguns, a step that even some industry opponents support as a way to match the firepower of potential terrorists.
“It’s my belief that an upgrade of this kind is long overdue,” said Edwin Lyman, a global security expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.
“There’s not a ban on semi-automatic weapons anymore, so that’s what’s out there, not just for terrorists but for the guy on the street,” he said. “Security officers need more firepower.”
Indian Point officials have not decided if they will add “enhanced weapons,” which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls the machine guns, short-barreled shotguns or short-barreled rifles, but will review their alternatives when the regulations are finalized.
“With any change in regulations that provide additional options or opportunities, we would look at potential enhancements in our security posture,” said Dan Gagnon, security manager at Indian Point. “However, specialized weapons and their potential impact is just one element of a comprehensive security program.”
The NRC acknowledges that there hasn’t been a single shot fired to defend a nuclear power plant, but the changes were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the new guidelines have been approved by the U.S. Attorney General, agency officials said. The final regulations could take until 2011 to hammer out.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the timing of the announcement on the eighth anniversary of Sept. 11 was coincidental.
Lyman said the anniversary of the terrorist attacks was a good time to remember the importance of not underestimating America’s enemies.
While the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry association, supports the weapon upgrades, there are those who think there’s more to fear than heavily armed attackers.
These weapons won’t protect us from the spontaneous problems related to the aging of the plant itself, such as steam boiler ruptures, transformer explosions, clogged cooling water intakes or whatever is discovered next,” said Manna Jo Greene, environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “Anything that lessens that danger is welcome, but this additional protection does not address the larger issues.”
Thomas Locke, a retired FBI agent and private security official in Washington, D.C., said the key to properly handling increased firepower is the person with the gun in his or her hands and the training they have received.
“The bad guys are bringing automatic weapons and explosives, so you have to have something to fight back with,” said Locke, who trained nuclear plant guards during an FBI tenure in Tennessee. “The key is vetting the personnel who are going to be assigned these tasks and then training, training and training.” Nuclear material cannot be allowed to leave the site, Locke said.
“We talk about casualties all the time, and the emphasis is always on the safety and security of law enforcement personnel,” he said. “But there’s no room for error with this type of stuff.”
Locke said highly trained officers know not to just spray bullets with machine guns; that shorter, more focused bursts of ammunition will be more effective.
With inadequate firepower, however, even sharpshooters can find themselves in trouble.
“We learned a hard lesson back in 1986 in Miami, when two bank robbers with automatic weapons took on FBI agents armed with revolvers and rifles,” he said. “We got the robbers, but we lost two agents, and eight others were wounded. You have to have the weapons and you have to know how to use them.”


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