I'm sure you've all heard of the EMP attack potential from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. If not, be advised that the use of an EMP has been factored into their battle plans.
It has been eight years since the Fukushima disaster. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has had eight years to publish a rule on Mitigating Beyond Design Basis Events (MBDBE). They have conducted themselves in their usual fashion. They've held meetings to give the illusion of serious consideration and then established an empty proposed rule, after a lengthy multi-year process, which has left America vulnerable. This, despite the efforts of concerned citizens and organizations like the Foundation For Resilient Societies, which offered proposed fixes, such as Petition For Rulemaking (PRM 50-96), which would have provided for long-term back up power for spent fuel at nuclear plants. By the way, PRM 50-96 was proffered in 2011, before the Fukushima disaster had occurred.
I've addressed the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat in this column previously, so I won't repeat what I've said before, other than to say that this threat can come from a natural source (solar) or man-made. There is a one-in-eight chance of a catastrophic megastorm by 2020. I'm sure you've all heard of the EMP attack potential from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. If not, be advised that the use of an EMP has been factored into their battle plans.
The 2008 U.S. Commission to Assess the Threat to the United Sates from an EMP Attack warned us of this potential. Knowledgeable citizens, such as Ambassador Henry Cooper (High Frontier) and organizations such as the American Leadership and Policy Foundation have heeded and repeated those warnings for years and have pointed out the devastating impact an EMP would have on our nation's nuclear plants. Now comes the U.S. Air Force Electromagnetic Defense Task Force Study published just this past November. I would encourage anyone who lives near one of our nuclear power stations to read their study online. Simply Google it and pay particular attention to pages 9-14, Issue Area 1: Electromagnetic Pulse and Geomagnetic Disturbances, Priority 1: Nuclear Power Resilience. The bottom line is that, "In a worst case scenario, all reactors within an affected region could be impacted simultaneously. In the United Sates, this would risk meltdowns at approximately 60 sites and 99 nuclear reactors, with more than 60,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel in storage pools."
And what has the NRC done about this? Like Nero did in Rome, they've fiddled while our country gets ready to burn. An EMP would fall into the category of a beyond design basis event, and we are still waiting for that rule to be published, even in its weakened state, some eight years since Fukushima. What does that do for your confidence in the ability of our government to protect us? I remember prior to 9/11 how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was in bed with the aviation industry. We know what that got us. And now we have the NRC in bed with the nuclear power industry. My hope is that we don't end up with a similar result, only much worse.
Now is the time to hammer the NRC and get them off the dime. The time for feigned interest, meeting after meeting and hollowed out rules is past. Now is a time for action, if we are going to survive as a nation.
The proposed publishing date for the Mitigation of Beyond Design Basis Events on the NRC's own calendar is the 22nd of this month. If they kick the can down the road again, it is long past time to hold them accountable.
Hell is but an EMP away.
Brian F. Sullivan is a senior fellow and member of the executive board of the American Leadership and Policy Foundation. He is a retired Army Military Police lieutenant colonel and former FAA special agent, risk program management specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has more than 30 years of security experience and was presented with a Platinum REMI at the Houston International Film Festival in 2011 for his narration of the aviation security documentary, “Please Remove Your Shoes.”