FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 4, 2010
SCHUMER: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION TO MAKE CRITICAL SECURITY IMPROVEMENS AT NUCLEAR PLANTS NATION-WIDE; IMPROVEMENS COME AFTER AUDIT COMPLETED AT SCHUMER'S REQUEST
In March, Schumer Called on NRC to Initiate Comprehensive Internal Review on Screening Procedures After It Was Revealed That Suspected Al-Qaeda Member, Sharif Mobley, Who was Arrested in Yemen, Worked at NJ Nuclear Plants for 6 Years
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has completed an audit conducted at his urging, and will beef up security at nuclear power plants around the country, as Schumer asked them to do in March. Schumer requested the audit after it was revealed that suspected Al-Qaeda member Sharif Mobley was allowed to work at nuclear facilities in New Jersey for six years, before he moved to Yemen and was arrested for having ties with Al-Qaeda.
In the audit released today, Monday, October 4th 2010, the NRC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) recommended: (a) improving employee training so that workers can better identify potential terrorists; (b) allowing the NRC direct access to background check databases, as opposed to relying on information provided by third parties; (c) increasing the frequency with which employees are re-screened; (d) and possibly requiring employees to declare their travel abroad. Recommendations (a), (b) and (c) are by law required to be acted on within 30 days. Recommendation (d) will be left to the discretion of the NRC.
“The Mobley arrest showed that we had to devise and implement a much tougher security system to protect our nuclear plants from infiltration. The NRC truly stepped up to the plate and provided concrete, actionable recommendations that can be put in place immediately,” said Schumer. “This security plan will protect all New Yorkers, and is a victory for nuclear power plants and their workers, who will now have enhanced protections. The plants in New York have a strong safety record, and these tools will help them make it even stronger.”
Though some of the audit has been redacted for security reasons, much of it is public. The redacted version of these documents have been attached.
Beginning in 2002, Sharif Mobley, an American who is being held in Yemen as a suspected militant with an Al-Qaeda affiliated group, worked at the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants in New Jersey and other plants in the area. The company, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., said in a report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Mobley worked as a laborer from 2002 to 2008, mainly during refueling outages for several weeks at a time. Despite becoming radicalized as early as 2006, Mobley continued to work at the facility until 2008.
Mobley worked for several contractors at six nuclear power plants in New Jersey from 2002 to 2008. Mobley carried supplies and did maintenance work at the plants on Artificial Island in Lower Alloways Creek, and worked at other plants in the region as well. He satisfied federal background checks as recently as 2008.
In March, Schumer called for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector General to conduct an immediate and thorough review of the Commission’s procedures for background checks on new and transfer employees and for improved monitoring of current employees at all U.S. nuclear plants. The plants located in New York have been very successful in running safe operations, but in an increasingly dangerous world, Schumer made the case that they should be provided with more resources to see that this strong safety record continues
Schumer unveiled the NRC’s new security measures. Moving forward the NRC will improve employee training so that workers can better identify and report suspicious behavior. The NRC OIG’s guidance also recommends that the NRC be given direct access to an important background check database instead of having to access it through a third party. The NRC will improve monitoring of the government’s terrorist watch-list and begin re-verifying employees on a more regular basis. The OIG also noted that perhaps employees should be required to disclose foreign travel.