SCHUMER: EXPLOSION THAT SHOOK NYC HIGHLIGHTS REAL RISK OF A ‘DIRTY BOMB’ IN NYC; SHOCKING FED REPORT SHOWS HOW ALMOST ANYONE CAN USE LOOPHOLE TO PURCHASE RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL REQUIRED TO CARRY OUT ATTACK IN MAJOR CITY; SENATOR URGES NUKE AGENCY TO OVERHAUL CHECK SYSTEM PUTTING NY’ERS AT RISK
Rahami Attack Brings To Light New Concerns About Who Can Acquire Radioactive Material — Schumer Demands Immediate Overhaul Of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Policies; Urges Change To Radioactive Licensing & Tracking Policies ASAP
Fed Watchdog Just Revealed How Easy It Is To Create A U.S. Shell Company & Successfully Seek Enough Radioactive Material To Build A ‘Dirty Bomb’
Schumer: Radioactive ‘Dirty Bomb’ Is A Worst-Case Terror Threat U.S. Must Prevent
On the heels of the recent New York City and New Jersey terror attack and explosions, and metastasizing homegrown, extremist-inspired terror threats, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to overhaul its nuclear licensing protocol, which is riddled with loopholes that allow wrongdoers to legally obtain radioactive materials. Just recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed a shocking report in which a fictitious shell company successfully obtained a license that allowed them to purchase enough radioactive materials to develop a dirty bomb.
“It is simply shocking that in a post 9/11 world, where we are faced with metastasizing homegrown terror threats, creating a shell company and collecting radioactive material is made possible through the U.S. government’s own policies and procedures,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We must adapt and fix our weaknesses, even as the terrorists who seek to do us harm are adapting to our efforts to root out and destroy them in other parts of the world. The fact that the NRC has oversight over this shocking loophole is something they must swiftly address before a nefarious attempt is made. The GAO did the right thing by exposing this ‘dirty bomb’ secret, and now we must finish the job by closing this loophole, while scouring the list of just who is being granted access to these dangerous materials."
Schumer said that, in light of this highly concerning report, the increased prevalence of homegrown terror threats, and the recent Rahami attack, the feds must close the security loopholes that exist within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing procedures and policies. Schumer said that he is concerned these vulnerabilities could be exploited by an evil-doer or terrorist. Moreover, Schumer said that NRC should also scour the list of newly-approved shipments of radioactive material to make sure that all those who were granted a recent license are legitimate.
“The bottom line is that we must have a rigorous background check system in place for any entity that seeks to purchase radioactive material, and an equally rigorous system for tracking what they do with it afterwards,” added Schumer. “In an age of terror threats, purchasing radioactive material is not just a medical matter or research matter, it is a national security matter, too.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the U.S. government’s independent commission aimed at developing regulations governing nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety, issuing orders to licenses and adjudicating legal matters. To obtain a license to possess radioactive materials, an entity or individual must first submit an application to NRC.
There are three categories of radioactive material that range in descending order of danger: category 1, category 2 and category 3. Despite the three levels of danger, each category could cause permanent injury to a person handling the radioactive material or in a city where it might be deployed as part of a ‘dirty bomb.’ Unlike the process for obtaining a license for category 1 and 2 radioactive materials, the NRC does not review specific security measures before a category 3 license is issued. Schumer said that this is a highly concerning loophole because a malicious individual may be able to obtain enough category 3 radioactive materials to create and detonate a deadly dirt bomb capable of poisoning a major city like New York.
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ‘Category 3’ radioactive material poses serious exposure risks to humans. The NRDC says Category 3 radioactive materials “…could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them, or were otherwise in contact with them, for some hours. It could possibly be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks.” Category 3 materials are perfectly legal to obtain for use in industries with industrial settings, even logging.
Schumer added, “Allowing a loophole in even one of these categories is an unacceptable risk.”
In July, the GAO released a report that suggested critical vulnerabilities exist within the NRC’s licensing process for radioactive materials. For instance, according to GAO, NRC and agreement states do not require tracking and agency license verification for category 3 quantities. In its study, the GAO established three fictitious businesses—including the leasing of vacant space for each fictitious company-- and applied for a category 3 radioactive materials license for each. In one of the three scenarios, GAO successfully obtained a license and secured commitments to purchase category 3 radioactive material that could be used to develop a “dirty bomb.”
In light of the GAO’s findings, Schumer urged the NRC to make immediate changes to its nuclear licensing protocol, specifically relating to its category 3 security loophole. Schumer also urged the review of recently approved shipments of radioactive material. Schumer today said that the federal government must ensure sufficient security procedures are in place to protect the public from a radioactive attack.
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