NRC orders enhanced security at NFS, Virginia facility

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. of Erwin and BWX Technologies, Inc. of Lynchburg, Va., to immediately implement "interim compensatory security measures for the current threat environment."
   Rosetta Virgilio, an NRC spokesman, said Thursday afternoon that the increased security requirements are not linked to specific new threats against either of the two nuclear facilities. However, "Looking at the threats that we do have around us today, we've gone ahead and issued orders," she said. "It's all part of our review of security issues."
   Virgilio also said the NRC had not heard anything new from the Office of Homeland Security that had prompted the agency to mandate the enhanced security. The NRC earlier issued orders directing increase security for nuclear power plants, gaseous diffusion plants and other nuclear facilities subject to NRC regulation.
   The new security requirements also are not linked directly to the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Virgilio said.
   NFS implemented increased security measures last year in the wake of the attacks, including relocating a street outside the Erwin plant.
   The NRC orders include requirements for increased patrols, augmented security forces and capabilities, additional security posts, installation of additional physical barriers, vehicle checks at greater standoff distances, enhanced coordination with law enforcement and military authorities, and more restricted site access controls. Licensees are required to provide NRC with a schedule within 20 days for achieving full compliance and justify in writing if they are unable to comply with any of the requirements of the order.
   The requirements will remain in effect until the NRC determines that the threat level has diminished, or that other changes are needed.
   Tony Treadway, spokesperson for NFS, said that most of the additional security measures already have been completed. "They're upgrading all nuclear facilities and this is an order specifically to two unique facilities. There are a few things that they've added that we will be adding. There's no apparent threat other than what's been going on."
   NFS Safeguards and Security Director Jerry Stout said, "Although the details of our enhancements cannot be made public, new safeguards have been in place for some time and more are being added."
   Stout said NFS reacted quickly in response to Sept. 11 and has maintained a level of security significantly higher than ever before at the plant. "Today's order will require a few additional enhancements that we will implement as quickly as possible. We will reply to the NRC within the allotted 20 days with a schedule for achieving full compliance to the enhanced measures," he said.
   NFS's proactive safeguards and security response were cited as an area of strength during the NRC's annual review of the facility in April. The review also noted important enhancements in the training of the company's Emergency Response Organization.