The assault team is settled on the wood line on a night with no moon. They are fine tuning their approach route, waiting for the right opportunity. In a few short seconds, they are identified, assessed and engaged by the highly trained security force at the Catawba Nuclear Station in South Carolina. A hail of gunfire from multiple locations reins on the terrorist cell, neutralizing the entire team before they can get to their feet.
Sound like science fiction? This is a typical training scenario for the nuclear security professionals across Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet. At Duke-operated nuclear stations, security is continuously evaluated through the critical review of the site’s ability to respond to a mock attack by adversaries and physically protect the site and its employees and equipment. This is a typical scenario of what is called a ‘force-on-force’ (FOF) security exercise. These exercises include a team of very fit, well-trained and well-armed mock adversaries.
Since 1991, these FOF exercises have been regularly carried out as part of the nuclear industry’s comprehensive security program to ensure the ability to protect the health and safety of the public. Every three years, each site is also evaluated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which brings in a special team of adversaries referred to as the “National Team.” This inspection evaluates multiple aspects of plant security and includes three nights of full-scale mock attacks. This National Team includes active duty military members from the U.S. Special Operations Command.
The NRC evaluates the ability to respond to these attacks – not just the security response, but all aspects of the site including a special focus on operations, and emergency preparedness.
Catawba Nuclear Station personnel recently successfully completed their NRC FOF evaluated exercise and the McGuire Nuclear Station near Charlotte, N.C. will be evaluated later this year. These represent two of the six Duke-operated sites in the Carolinas. Ed O’Neil, director, Nuclear Protective Services, describes the secret to Duke’s top-notch nuclear security program. “Duke Energy has a well-trained and highly skilled security force. Our officers are very professional and take great pride in what they do – our mission is to be the best in the industry and we are on track to achieve this mission.”
O’Neil added, “The combination of a team who genuinely cares about what they do, a world-class training and qualification program and a well designed and comprehensive security strategy, you ensure nuclear power plants are among the most well protected facilities in the nation.”
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