Nuclear -   32
Nuclear -   32
www.DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate
Nuclear - Page 29
IDF Planning to Attack Nuclear Sites in IranHaaretz Service and Reuters – by Nathan Guttman – October 12, 2003
Israel is prepared to launch an attack on Iran's nuclear sites in order to prevent them from being operational, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.
The Los Angeles Times meanwhile reported on Saturday that Israel has the capability to fire nuclear warheads from submarines.
Basing its disclosure on U.S. government officials and Israeli sources, the report claimed that Israeli submarines are armed with U.S.-made Harpoon cruise missiles. Israel has modified nuclear warheads to fit these Harpoon missiles, and the missiles have been modified so that they can hit land targets, the report added.
Labor MK Ephraim Sneh told Army Radio in response that the reports on Israeli allegedly growing nuclear capability are harmful to Israel and distract attention from Iran's efforts to become a nuclear power. Most importantly, he added, they are untrue.
The Der Spiegel report said that Israel is prepared to launch an attack in Iran against facilities used in that country's nuclear weapons development program. According to this report, Israeli officials fear Iran's nuclear program has reached an advanced stage, and a special Mossad unit has been ordered to formulate an attack plan against the nuclear weapons program sites in Iran.
According to the report, the Mossad believes that Iran is already able to manufacture weapons-grade uranium, and ordered a special unit two months ago to prepare a comprehensive and detailed plan for the attack.
The magazine quoted an Israeli fighter pilot as saying that the mission was complicated but technically feasible.
According to the report, Israel has information on six nuclear sites in Iran, three of them previously unknown to the rest of the world, and plans to have F16 fighter planes attack the sites simultaneously.
Completing the nuclear program
The deployment of the modified Harpoon cruise missiles, the LA Times said, completes Israel's nuclear program. Israel has the capability of launching nuclear missiles from the land, air and sea, the report claimed.
Sea-based nuclear missile capability is widely considered an essential strategic asset that greatly enhances a country's deterrent strength. A country with nuclear missiles at sea can threaten an enemy with a "second strike" - that is, even if a surprise attack manages to wipe out its surface and air missile systems, the country can rely on its submarine missiles to retaliate.
Israeli sources said Saturday that U.S. officials have never raised questions about a possibility of Israel converting American-made missiles for nuclear use. User instructions that have accompanied the supply of missiles such as the Harpoon have not included restrictions banning any such conversion, say the Israeli sources.
Maintaining a policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel has never formally acknowledged possession of nuclear weapons. Experts in the West believe Israel's arsenal contains between 100 and 200 advanced nuclear bombs. Israel's delivery systems, these authorities contend, feature F-15 and F-16 planes, "Jericho" surface missiles, and the submarine-based Harpoon missiles.
Western researchers have estimated that Israel has 120 Harpoon cruise missiles capable of submarine launch.
The Los Angeles Times report alluded to two U.S. officials as primary sources of information about Israel's Harpoon cruise missiles. These sources asked to remain anonymous; they explained that they leaked information as a caution to Israel's enemies, particularly Iran.
The U.S. State Department and Pentagon declined Saturday to comment on the report.
Some U.S. public figures claimed Saturday that Israeli nuclear capability complicates international efforts to stop Iran's nuclear weapons procurement efforts. A senior U.S. official who has been active in attempts to stop nuclear weapons proliferation said Israel's nuclear capabilities are a "magnet" spurring Arab countries that aspire to develop nuclear weapons of their own.
Nuclear Waste Stored at a School Bus StopEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com – October 11, 2003
The Las Vegas Sun reported that a 565,000-pound radioactive shipment, bound for storage facility in South Carolina, was stored at a school bus stop. The truck broke an axle, and the axle was removed by the side of the road. Then the truck was parked near a gas station that was also a school bus stop. The vessel was then going to be transferred to a train. The truck was still at the bus stop the next morning.
Nuclear waste specialist for the Nuclear Information Resource Service, Kevin Kamps, said many local officials were left out of the notification process, especially on the exact nature of the shipment and its whereabouts. He said “How much sense does it make in a post (Sept. 11, 2001) world to park this thing near a gas station? It's much less radioactive (than waste set for Yucca) but it does beg the questions and make you wonder what's ahead.”
Associate transportation supervisor for the school bus system, Doug Francis, only knew of the shipment from watching the news. He did not find out that it would be parked at the bus stop until a newspaper called him.
The nuclear reactor vessel was shipped from the closed Big Rock Point nuclear power plant in Michigan. Company officials said the transfer would take between two and four days.
Effort to Close Indian Point ReactorsEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - September 21, 2003
Duke Energy is downplaying the concern by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about a design flaw in a backup cooling system. But ignoring issues does not always make them go away. The New York Times compared seemingly low nuclear risk to the foam insulation that ultimately destroyed the space shuttle and all crew members. Everyone knew about the problem, but no one was concerned enough to take any action to prevent the catastrophe.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and Riverkeeper have petitioned the NRC to close the two nuclear reactors at Indian Point. The reason for this request is an apparent flaw in the emergency cooling systems. Specifically, the system could become clogged and not function in an nuclear accident.
This design flaw forced plant modifications at boiling-water reactors some years ago. Now the focus is turning to pressurized-water reactors.
The Times questions the prudence in shutting down only one reactor when the same problem exists at most other pressurized-water reactors. A universal problem calls for a broad approach to rectify it. Will people one day read “Everyone knew about the potential for disaster, but did not think it would actually happen.”?
NRC Concerned About Safety SystemEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - September 19, 2003
The Associated Press reported that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has concerns about Duke Energy’s Oconee Nuclear Station. The NRC said that a design flaw in a backup cooling system could multiply the chances of a nuclear accident.
The NRC said that the system could become clogged and not function. Duke is downplaying the issue.
Possible Terrorism Ties in CanadaEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com - August 25, 2003
The New York Times reported that 19 immigrants from Pakistan, ages 18 to 33, have been detained by Canadian authorities. They are suspected of having ties to terrorism and have a “pattern of fraudulent document use to obtain or maintain immigrant status.” They were living in apartments with only computers and mattresses in them.
Officials are not giving out much information, but a four-page court document provided these facts:
One man sought permanent residency to attend an Ottawa business college, which turned out to be a fraudulent operation. The man could show no source of income, but had a bank balance of $40,000.The police began receiving tips about this group shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
The court document stated: “Based upon the structure of this group, their associations and connected events, there is a reasonable suspicion that these persons pose a threat to national security.”
Contaminated Nuclear Shipment in NCEmployee Advocate - DukeEmployees.com - August 7, 2003
Two public interest groups have asked North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate a shipment of contaminated nuclear waste. The groups were: Public Citizen and the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN).
The radioactive contamination was discovered on a nuclear waste shipping container at Progress Energy's Shearon Harris reactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave a sketchy “event notice” on July 29.
The groups asked the NRC not to withhold information from the public.
Public Citizen stated: “Currently, North Carolina is the only place in the U.S. where high-level radioactive waste is routinely transported. However, government plans for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. - and a companion industry proposal for "interim storage" at Skull Valley, Utah - could launch unprecedented cross-country nuclear shipping in the future.”
Let's Hear It AllInsightMag.com - by Tom Devine, Martin E. Andersen - June 30, 2003
(6/9/03) - To those concerned with whistle-blower rights, the outrage expressed by Nevada's senators following an alleged attempt by the Department of Energy (DOE) to silence and intimidate two witnesses scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing concerning the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste dump is all too familiar.
Republican Sen. John Ensign declared at a hearing held May 28 in Las Vegas: "It is disturbing that responsible workers who uncover problems with Yucca Mountain procedures are being retaliated against by the Department of Energy and its contractors. Their attempts to silence critics of the project have amplified our concerns about their commitment to quality assurances at Yucca Mountain." Democratic Sen. Harry Reid fumed: "It is a disappointment to me and a disservice to the American public that workers within the Yucca Mountain Project have been silenced" by DOE. "Make no mistake, we will ultimately hear their stories and what they know will be made public."
It is clear that the whistle-blowers ought to be heard. Their voices might have added even greater credibility to the parade of expert witnesses at the hearing who testified about rampant mismanagement, politicized "scientific" reports and serious defects in the quality-assurance program that is supposed to govern DOE's plans for entombing 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the unexpectedly leaky mountain.
The whistle-blowers' voices were needed to allay concern that DOE fails to act responsibly. The lead auditor for a Yucca Mountain program contractor testified that for the last two years, despite allegations of corruption and other abuses of authority, the department's inspector general has yet to open an investigation. The mixture of questionable science by DOE's Yucca Mountain "amen corner" and alleged fabricated witness interviews on key quality-assurance programs has left experts scratching their heads about where the truth lies about water that could accumulate inside the facility, the rate at which it could accumulate and the risk of corrosion for hundreds of waste cannisters storing lethal waste.
Yet, instead of dealing with these problems, insiders say, DOE has been paying what Reid himself called "millions of dollars in hush money" so that the public - particularly Yucca Mountain's Nevada neighbors - doesn't know what's threatening them. Naturally, DOE doesn't see it that way.
The Yucca Mountain experience serves as a microcosm of how DOE deals with whistle-blowers, say critics, in that those who can't be bought by the department end up being bullied by it. Absent congressional champions and the bright glare of unfavorable publicity, most whistle-blowers find that they are treated like criminals. The intimidation tends to be successful because the consequences - including security-clearance revocation, job loss and blacklisting - can be severe. Even bipartisan senatorial huffing and puffing doesn't necessarily forestall reprisal. Witness DOE's willingness to turn a deaf ear to Reid - the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate - and Ensign, who belongs to the same party as President George W. Bush.
There is a possible solution, however, and it is something Reid and Ensign very plausibly could do. The Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) remains the only Department of Labor environmental statute that excludes government whistle-blowers from being harassed for challenging violations of laws and regulations. Those affected by this free-speech orphanhood are primarily Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and DOE whistle-blowers.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the need to protect government employees blowing the whistle on national-security violations appears to critics to be increasing dramatically, as does the number of modern-day "Paul Revere" whistle-blowers challenging bureaucratic negligence over vulnerabilities to terrorist attack. Not surprisingly, claims of reprisals against whistle-blowers also are on the rise.
A recent report by the NRC inspector general's office reveals that fear of reprisal is undercutting the commission staff's public-service goals, with only 53 percent saying they are satisfied that their agency adequately is serving public-interest goals.
If Congress really is serious about protecting Yucca Mountain and other DOE whistle-blowers, say Capitol Hill staff, there is an easy way to fix the problem. An energy bill now is before the Senate, with action on it expected in the next few weeks. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) included precisely the kind of legislative "fix" critics say the current law needs so that the free-speech rights of DOE whistle-blowers may effectively be protected.
Yet, in the Senate, there have been no takers to date for the Tauzin amendment. History is replete with examples of great ideas being adopted by one house of Congress, only to die without an appropriate echo in the other.
DOE has served Nevada's senators with what advocates call a tailor-made example of a whistle-blower reprisal that begs the question about whether such protections ought to be extended to NRC and DOE employees. Nothing can be quite as compelling an argument on Capitol Hill as a recent horror story about how the Washington bureaucracy tramples on a constituent's rights. That same bureaucracy has given Reid and Ensign a chance for leadership.
For those concerned with problems at Yucca Mountain, an appropriate redress for their worries might come by empowering those with the expertise and experience to address environmental worries with genuine and enforceable rights
Tom Devine is legal counsel for the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a Washington-based whistle-blower protection organization. Martin Edwin Andersen, an Insight contributing writer, in 2001 won the federal service's highest award as a national security whistle-blower.
Senate Recipe for a BombThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution - June 16, 2003
(6/13/03) - Charity usually begins at home, but for the nuclear industry, it begins in the U.S. Senate.
This week, a slim Senate majority voted to grant the industry $16 billion in taxpayer-funded handouts, loan guarantees and other goodies, producing one of the sweetest sweetheart deals in recent history.
The bill, which now faces a House-Senate conference committee, provides for:
• Federal financing to cover up to 50 percent of the cost to develop and build new reactors. The government would buy energy from the plants once they're completed.
• A decade-long commitment by the Department of Energy to promote construction of nuclear power facilities through other public-private agreements.
• A total of $1.5 billion in federal funding for research, development and commercial demonstration projects.
• Extending insurance subsidies for new power plants that would limit the owner's liability in case of an accident. If something goes wrong, as it did so infamously at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island plant in 1979, taxpayers would bail them out.
Since that frightening mishap, investors on Wall Street and families on Main Street have had little appetite for nuclear power -- no new plants have been started in this country since that event occurred.
Proponents now claim that technological advancements have rendered nuclear power far safer. Opponents still insist otherwise, pointing out that questions about how to dispose of radioactive wastes haven't been fully resolved, and that nuclear plants are extremely costly.
The nuclear power subsidy is just one part of a larger energy bill making its way through Congress. That bill also fails to provide meaningful incentives for energy conservation, does nothing to prevent Enron-esque manipulations of the energy markets that darkened California three years ago, and fails to promote renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy that elected officials treated as unwanted orphans.
But here's the real kick: According to a report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, more than half of the nuclear power plants that would be built if this legislation passes would be very likely to fail, leaving taxpayers on the hook.
The nuclear power industry argues that other industries also get subsidies, and they do. Bills in both houses of Congress include handouts for other mature industries that are equally undeserved.
But their "me too" defense neither explains nor excuses the Senate's efforts to use taxpayers' money as a crutch for an industry that's been around long enough to stand on its own.
Nuclear Plant Workers StrikeEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com – May 25, 2003
The New York Times reports that electrical workers have gone on strike at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in central New Jersey. 215 of the plant's 450 workers walked out Thursday, over old work rules, staff reductions and employee benefits.
The plant was already shut down due to a cable failure.
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1289 members picketed the site. Scabs were brought in by management. Police officers were outside the gates to prevent clashes between the groups. New Jersey National Guard troops were already on site as an antiterrorist measure. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection teams converged inside the plant. So much for keeping a low profile!
Myrick Gets One RightEmployee Advocate – DukeEmployees.com – May 25, 2003
U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick does not have an outstanding voting record on issues that would benefit American workers. She can always be found in the corner of large corporations and is usually a rubber stamp for anything that G. W. Bush wishes.
It must be true that a blind hog can find an acorn every once in a while, because Myrick is bucking Bush and Duke Energy! Bush does not want to give Charlotte, North Carolina any antiterrorism money. Duke Energy wants to deny any possibility of terrorism against nuclear plants.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Myrick thinks Charlotte is a target for terrorism. She correctly pointed out the reasons in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge:
"This is my sincere belief, and the belief of many others, that Charlotte is a target for terrorists planning attacks against our country. As America's second largest financial city and headquarters for two of the largest banking institutions in the country, Charlotte contains some of the world's most vitally important economic infrastructure. The city is the only city in the country with two nuclear power plants ... (and) was also home to a hidden Hezbollah cell that was raising millions of dollars for the terrorist organization."
Also, consider that Charlotte has a large airport. Consider that the two nuclear plants closest to that airport will have the only reactors in the U. S. that burn a fuel mixture containing plutonium. Nuclear reactors are not merely a possible terrorist target, they have been pinpointed as a target in terrorist manuscripts. The denial defense has fatal limitations!
Of the $700 million in security-related grants, Charlotte will get zero.
Congressional Bill of SalePublic Citizen – www.Citizen.org – May 21, 2003
Nuclear Provisions in Energy Bill Demonstrate Influence of Corporate Campaign Contributors
WASHINGTON, D.C.- As the U.S. Senate debates a comprehensive energy bill (S.14) that features unprecedented subsidies to promote commercial nuclear power, an analysis of nuclear industry campaign contributions suggests that energy policy is for sale in the halls of Congress, Public Citizen said today.
The president's industry-endorsed energy policy, unveiled in 2001, drew attention to the inappropriate coziness between the Bush administration and energy industry executives. According to the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), Political Action Committees (PACs) affiliated with oil and gas companies and electric utilities - the main beneficiaries of the Bush energy policy - gave more than $17 million to congressional campaigns in the 2002 election cycle alone. And PAC contributions are just the tip of the iceberg. CRP calculates that total contributions over the same period from these energy interests (including individual and "soft money" contributions) were nearly $45 million.
Like the energy bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 6), energy legislation now before the Senate is larded with giveaways to these lucrative industries, at the expense of consumers, taxpayers and the environment. In particular, the Senate bill provides substantial subsidies to promote the construction of new nuclear power reactors. For instance, one provision authorizes government loan guarantees and power purchase agreements to finance up to half the costs of reactor construction, which could leave taxpayers liable for an estimated $30 billion…
No NRC Rubberstamp for MOXAssociated Press – May 8, 2003
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants 19 lingering safety questions answered before it gives approval to a facility that would convert weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.
A revised safety evaluation report completed last week found the issues that must be addressed by Duke Cogema Stone & Webster, a group of companies selected by the Energy Department to build and operate a mixed-oxide fuel plant at the Savannah River Site.
The safety questions include how the company would handle fire and chemical issues as well as uncertainties about ventilation and any possible atomic reaction.
The MOX facility will make blended plutonium fuel for use in two Duke Energy commercial nuclear power plants near Charlotte, N.C.
Duke Cogema spokesman Todd Kaish said the company expects to resolve the questions and begin construction in 2004. If all issues are resolved, the NRC could issue a license this fall, Kaish said.
The NRC's safety evaluation updates a report issued in 2002 that had 59 unresolved issues that the company would needed to address.
The recent concerns from the federal agency come after DOE decided to use more impure plutonium in the MOX plant than originally projected.
Anti-nuclear activists have opposed the MOX program, saying it is dangerous to ship and use in commercial plants. Instead of making fuel, they want the government to immobilize the material into glass. A nuclear nonproliferation agreement with Russia calls on both countries to make surplus plutonium useless for atomic weapons. Both countries have agreed to neutralize 34 metric tons each.
While questions about the Russian program remain unresolved, the U.S. government says it will ship 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium to SRS for eventual use in MOX fuel.
About 6 metric tons of plutonium are coming to SRS from the Rocky Flats weapons complex, which is closing. Those shipments are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
MOX Fuel NRC Meeting HeldThe Charlotte Observer – by Bruce Henderson – March 30, 2003
(3/28/03) - Assurances from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn't convince the handful of speakers at a hearing Thursday on a plan to blend weapons plutonium into fuel for Charlotte's two nearby nuclear power plants.
The NRC, in a study published last month, said the fuel fabrication plant to be built at South Carolina's Savannah River Site would pose acceptable environmental risks. That left few obvious reasons for the agency to deny construction of the plant, a decision expected by late September.
While some critics picked at the environmental analysis Thursday for what it didn't cover, such as how the new mixed-oxide fuel would perform in Duke Power's reactors, most believe the MOX plan itself is fatally flawed.
They say it will be risky to ship the new fuel and the plutonium that will go into it, and that mixed-oxide fuel will be more dangerous in use at Duke's Catawba and McGuire plants than conventional fuel.
"It is our fear that the NRC is just going through the motions of pretending to listen to public comments when the decision to build and use the facilities is already being taken for granted by the companies involved," said Judy Aulette of the Charlotte Area Green Party.
Lawrence Kokajko, an NRC official, said the agency has made no decision on granting a construction license to Duke Cogema Stone & Webster, the business group under federal contract to build the fuel plant.
The plant would blend 37 tons of plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel. The government plan, which depends on Russia also disposing surplus plutonium, is intended to keep the material out of enemy hands.
Opponents favored another approach -- encasing plutonium in a hardened form -- that the government scrapped last year.
That left the NRC, in its environmental analysis, to evaluate in depth only two options -- make mixed-oxide fuel or do nothing.
The NRC's favorable findings are "based on the desultory dismissal of any other alternative," said Mary Olson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an anti-nuclear group.
The analysis found that operating a MOX plant would be less hazardous, from radiological hazards, than continuing to store the surplus plutonium at seven federal facilities around the country.
Accident scenarios tell a different story. An explosion at the MOX plant could cause as many as 200 cancer deaths, the analysis said. A release of radioactive tritium at the associated facility that will take apart plutonium bomb triggers could eventually kill 100.
Low-income and minority people would suffer disproportionately in such an accident, the study said. The NRC calls those consequences significant, but says such accidents are very unlikely.
The NRC hasn't yet calculated the result of an accident at Duke's Catawba or McGuire nuclear plants, where the fuel would be installed.
Duke applied on Feb. 27 to test MOX fuel for 4 1/2 years at its McGuire or Catawba plants, beginning in 2005.
Troops Deployed to Nuclear PlantN. Y. Times – Philip Shenon, Eric Lichtblau – March 22, 2003
WASHINGTON, March 20 — Federal law enforcement officials warned today about new domestic terrorism threats, including an "imminent threat" that might be posed by a suspected Al Qaeda member sought by the F.B.I. The officials also said they were worried about continuing intelligence reports that suggested terrorist attacks linked to the Iraq invasion.
The officials said that National Guard members were sent on Tuesday to a large nuclear power plant in Arizona after intelligence reports suggested that Al Qaeda or its sympathizers might be planning to attack it. The officials said a foreign spy agency had provided information about a threat to the plant, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Tonopah, 50 miles west of Phoenix.
The three-reactor site is classified as the largest nuclear power plant in the United States. The officials would not say which agency had supplied the information. Although he offered few details, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said there had been a "very specific piece of threat information" to suggest that the plant was in danger.
Law enforcement officials said there was not necessarily any connection between that threat and an announcement today by the F.B.I. that it was searching for the suspect from Al Qaeda, Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, 27, who was born in Saudi Arabia. Residents of Miramar, Fla., said a man who appeared to be Mr. Shukrijumah was living there as recently as last weekend.
The F.B.I. announced the search as it said it was preparing to interview thousands of Iraqi-born residents of the United States in the next several weeks, to develop leads on possible terror attacks.
Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials said Mr. Shukrijumah had been identified as a potential terrorist from Al Qaeda by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the senior terrorist leader who was captured this month in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and has been intensively questioned.
The officials said suspicions about Mr. Shukrijumah and his intentions had grown with the discovery that he had flight training in the United States about the same time as several Sept. 11 hijackers, that he had recently traveled on a passport issued by Guyana and that he had used a variety of aliases.
The bulletin said Mr. Shukrijumah might try to cross American borders with a Saudi, Canadian or Trinidadian passport. The bulletin included photographs of the suspect, including one from a Florida driver's license issued in February 2001.
Neighbors in Miramar, south of Fort Lauderdale, said a man who identified himself as Mr. Shukrijumah had lived and had been seen there as recently as last weekend. Orville Campbell, 26, a commercial artist who lives in a nearby apartment complex, said he saw Mr. Shukrijumah barbecuing at 1 a.m. on Sunday with other people.
A senior Bush administration official said the government had evidence to suggest that Mr. Shukrijumah had attended the Airman Flight School in Norman, Okla., one of two schools that Zacarias Moussaoui attended in 2001. Mr. Moussaoui, a Frenchmen, is awaiting trial in Virginia on charges that he conspired with the Sept. 11 hijackers.
But the director of operations at the school, Dale Davis, said a search of its records found no student with any of the six names that Mr. Shukrijumah is believed to have used. In a telephone interview, Mr. Davis said the F.B.I. had not been in contact with the school for months and, to his knowledge, had never asked the school about Mr. Shukrijumah.
The reports of threats to the power plant and the search for Mr. Shukrijumah circulated as law enforcement and counterterrorism officials said they were continuing to see new intelligence to suggest that Al Qaeda, Iraqi intelligence agencies and others would try to carry out terrorist attacks timed to an invasion of Iraq.
The F.B.I. said it was preparing to interview 11,000 Iraqi-born Americans and immigrants in the next few weeks for information that they may have about threats. The program is expected to involve almost 5,000 agents. F.B.I. officials said that the interviews, which they described as voluntary, began months ago but were stepped up this week.
"It's an accelerated process," an official said. "The intensity has picked up. Agents were knocking on doors and saying, `Hey, is there anything you know that could be helpful as we are waging war against your former country?' "
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, said the stepped-up Iraqi interviews and the F.B.I.'s expanded powers to detain illegal immigrants were another effort to single out unfairly Arabs and Arab-Americans in the United States.
Nuclear Plant a Terrorist TargetWashington Times – by Bill Gertz, Jerry Seper – March 21, 2003
(3/20/03) - Terrorists have targeted the United States' largest nuclear power plant near Phoenix, and security officials are looking for Iraqi government "sleeper cells" that might carry out the attack, The Washington Times has learned.
The threat to the Palo Verde nuclear plant, located in the Sonora desert 50 miles west of Phoenix, prompted the deployment of National Guard troops to the facility, according to U.S. officials.
"We understand the sensitivity of this time, and we are very, very committed to protecting the safe operation of Palo Verde," Jim McDonald, a spokesman for the Arizona Public Service Co., which owns the reactor complex, said in an interview.
Mr. McDonald declined to comment on specific intelligence indicating a threat to Palo Verde but noted that the troops were added Tuesday by order of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
One official said the report on the Palo Verde threat was contained in classified intelligence reports distributed to law-enforcement and security officials.
A second U.S. official confirmed the report and said it was "uncorroborated threat information" that was sent to appropriate U.S. security authorities.
Palo Verde is the largest nuclear power facility in the United States with three reactors that produced 30 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year, Mr. McDonald said.
The threat to attack the facility came from sensitive information indicating that the plant was targeted by Middle Eastern terrorists who were not further identified.
The threat to Palo Verde comes as other intelligence reports indicate that Iraq has set up clandestine cells of operatives inside the United States or abroad that could be called on to conduct attacks or sabotage on behalf of Baghdad.
For example, recent intelligence reports indicated that Iraqi diplomats in Cairo had conducted surveillance of the U.S. Embassy there, U.S. officials said.
Officials did not say how many Iraqi cells are in the country. Baghdad has nearly 250 officials posted to the United States, most of them at its U.N. mission in New York.
A Bush administration official said the State Department has decided to expel the three Iraqi diplomats posted to Baghdad's interest section in Washington. The expulsion order is expected as early as today.
Only Iraqi officials engaged in improper intelligence or terrorism-related activity can be expelled from the U.N. mission.
Meanwhile, the FBI warned law-enforcement officials yesterday to watch for suspicious activity by people driving Iraqi diplomatic license plates.
"Suspicious activity involving vehicles bearing Iraqi diplomatic license plates should be reported immediately to the nearest Joint Terrorism Task Force," the FBI stated in a weekly intelligence bulletin.
Codes used by cars driven by Iraqi diplomats in Washington bear the "TF," and Iraqi U.N. diplomatic vehicles in New York have the "TS" code.
Intelligence officials said the administration has urged governments around the world to expel Iraqi diplomats, and several have complied.
Iraqi diplomats have been expelled in recent days from Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Thailand and Australia.
Two Iraqis also were expelled from the United States on March 5 after they were identified as intelligence officers, U.S. officials said.
Justice Department officials yesterday confirmed that the FBI is looking to interview as many as 50,000 Iraqis now in the United States for information that could help U.S. forces. They said a war with Iraq is expected to dramatically increase the chances of terrorist attacks against U.S. targets in this country and abroad.
One senior department official said that while most Iraqis in this country are not believed to be terrorists or associated with terrorist organizations, Muslim extremists within the Iraqi community who are affiliated with al Qaeda could use a war as the reason for an attack.
Among the Iraqis being sought for questioning are 3,000 illegal immigrants said to be missing, amid U.S. concerns that some could be connected with groups or agents of the Iraqi regime.
Earlier this week, Mexican authorities detained six Iraqi citizens as they sought to cross into the United States from Tijuana. The six, including one woman, claimed to be German citizens on their arrival at the Tijuana airport Tuesday night on a flight from Mexico City. They have been returned to Mexico City for questioning.
It could not be learned if the detained Iraqis were connected to the plot to attack Palo Verde.
Border Patrol authorities also confirmed that a diary written in Arabic was found last week in a backpack discovered on a southern Arizona trail frequently used by illegal aliens. The diary, according to the sources, contained names and telephone numbers of at least two persons in Canada and Iran.
The FBI has since taken custody of the diary, but refused comment on it yesterday.
Secret NRC Document on Uranium PlantPublic Citizen – www.Citizen.org - March 14, 2003
Document Will Show How Agency Intends to Handle Public Hearings for Proposed Uranium Enrichment Plant in Tennessee
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two national advocacy groups are seeking the release of a document being withheld by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that will indicate how the agency will handle the licensing and public hearings for a uranium enrichment plant in central Tennessee.
The document contains the commissioners' response to six "white papers" submitted last spring by Louisiana Energy Services (LES), a private consortium that wants to build the plant. The "white papers" are memos focusing on licensing issues that may be contentious, such as whether the consortium is targeting an economically depressed area and whether the plant is needed. The papers are an attempt to persuade the commissioners to decide how they will handle critical licensing issues before LES submits a license application. Public hearings on similar issues resulted in the denial of a license for a proposed LES plant in Homer, La., in 1997.
Both the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and Public Citizen have submitted comments on the "white papers." At the urging of NIRS, the NRC invited the public to respond to the memos. The agency has received more than 350 comments, almost all urging the NRC to reject the consortium's position.
Commissioners have outlined their views on the issues and have informed the agency's staff, according to the trade publication Inside NRC (March 10, 2003), but they have yet to make their views public.
On March 11, Public Citizen sent a letter to NRC Chairman Richard Meserve, asking that the document be released and that the NRC explain what procedure it would use to license the proposed LES plant. On March 12, NIRS submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the document.
"The public deserves to know if the NRC commissioners have capitulated to the consortium's unreasonable demands that the agency pre-determine controversial licensing issues, which would make a mockery of the public hearing process," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen' s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.
"LES asked the NRC to rule in its favor before a public hearing on exactly those issues that resulted in the company's license being denied in Louisiana, including critical issues of environmental justice, disposal of radioactive waste, and whether the plant is even needed—which it's not," said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS. "We intend to sue the NRC if it adopts LES' positions, so the agency might as well tell us now if it intends to act on behalf of this company or on behalf of the public."
However, the groups hope that the NRC's reluctance to release the document may indicate that the agency has decided to rule against LES.
"LES has been looking for a positive signal from the NRC," Mariotte said. "But the NRC so far isn't providing that signal. This may be just another blow to the LES project, which is already staggering from its inability to obtain a zoning change in Tennessee and the March 10 withdrawal of the Canadian company Cameco, which held a 20 percent interest in the project, from the LES consortium."
LES is dominated by the European uranium enrichment firm Urenco, which itself is a consortium composed of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., the Dutch government and various German firms. Other LES partners include Westinghouse (itself a division of BNFL) and three U.S. nuclear utilities: Exelon, Entergy and Duke Power.
LES announced plans in 1989 to build a uranium enrichment plant near Homer. But a local citizens group, Citizens Against Nuclear Trash, aided by NIRS, Earthjustice and others, successfully challenged the consortium's license application, resulting in the first-ever denial of a license by the NRC.
For more information on LES and its proposed plant at Hartsville, Tennessee, visit www.nirs.org, www.stoples.org and http://www.citizen.org/cmep/.
NRC Blocks Plan to Store Nuclear WasteAssociated Press – by Robert Gehrke – March 11, 2003
WASHINGTON - Federal regulators on Monday blocked a proposal by private utility companies to store high-level nuclear waste on an Indian reservation in Utah's west desert, citing the dangers posed by a nearby Air Force training range.
Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of eight electric utilities, had sought to store uranium rods from nuclear reactors in casks on the Skull Valley Goshute reservation, 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, until a permanent storage facility could be built at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Utah officials objected to the proposal, raising a series of safety concerns, including the threat posed by military aircraft and the potential for earthquakes and other problems.
The Air Force flies thousands of training missions each year over the sprawling Utah Test and Training Range near the Skull Valley Goshute reservation.
"There is enough likelihood of an F-16 crash into the proposed facility that such an accident must be deemed credible," the Atomic Safety Licensing Board - an arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission - said in a 222-page opinion Monday. As a result, the board said, it was holding off approval for the project.
The board said it could reconsider its decision if Private Fuel Storage can convince the Air Force to reduce or reroute the number of flights over the reservation or if PFS can show that the concrete and steel casks where the waste would be stored could withstand an F-16 crash.
At a hearing last year, PFS argued that pilots could steer their planes away from the nuclear waste before a crash occurred, but the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board was unswayed.
PFS can also appeal the licensing board's decision to the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but the chances of the commissioners overruling the board would be unusual.
In a statement, PFS said it is reviewing the decision.
"While we are disappointed with this initial partial decision, we continue to believe that our facility meets the federal regulations," said Scott Northard, project manager for PFS.
Goshute Chairman Leon Bear did not return a message left at the tribe's office.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the decision "a tremendous victory for safety and sensibility over recklessness and short-term profits."
"I have never thought that this proposal was in the best interests of the citizens of Utah, and I think this decision bears that out," Hatch said.
Commercial nuclear power plants around the country are running out of space to store the spent reactor fuel. Storage pools at many plants are full, so the companies sought to find a remote area where the radioactive waste could be stored until the Energy Department builds a permanent storage dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
The Energy Department hopes to open Yucca Mountain by 2010, but the proposed facility must still get an NRC license and could get delayed.
The Skull Valley Band of Goshutes, an impoverished tribe whose reservation is in Utah's west desert sought the economic benefits of the project and signed a deal with PFS in 1997 to pursue the plan.
The proposed storage facility would essentially be a 100-acre concrete parking lot within a controlled 820-acre area. Four thousand casks with 2 1/2-foot-thick concrete and steel walls encasing a total of 40,000 metric tons of uranium would be lined up in rows.
"This was about getting cash for exploiting the safety of their neighbors," Gov. Mike Leavitt.
U.S. Providing N. Korea With Nuke InfoAssociated Press – by H. Josef Hebert – March 8, 2003
WASHINGTON - While the Bush administration confronts North Korea over development of nuclear weapons, it is allowing the regime access to thousands of documents on nuclear technology as part of an electric power project, the Energy Department acknowledged.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., questioned the continuation of the nuclear technology transfers.
In a letter to Markey, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said the administration was considering suspending the technology transfers, which began in 1996 as part of a program to help North Korea build two light water nuclear reactors to generate electricity.
The program was extended for another five years by the Bush administration in 2001. The twin reactors are being built by a South Korean consortium using reactor technology developed by Westinghouse. Construction began last August.
The Energy Department confirmed Friday that about 3,100 documents related to nuclear power plant licensing and operation have been approved for use in the project. About 300 of the documents have already been transferred, while about 100 documents were blocked by the Energy Department's export control office.
Abraham said every precaution is being taken to assure that North Korea "does not receive technology or assistance that could further a nuclear weapons program."
"The authorization explicitly restricts U.S. technology transfers to that related to licensing and safe operation" of the proposed reactors and "bars transfer of any U.S. technology that would enable North Korea to design or manufacture key components or nuclear reactor fuel," Abraham wrote Markey in a March 4 letter.
He said the DOE export control office "has carefully and thoroughly reviewed" the documents related to the reactor project.
Markey said the administration should halt all nuclear cooperation with North Korea and immediately bar the further transfer of the documents, which cover such subjects as training, quality assurance, reactor construction and reactor safety.
"While Bush administration officials have thrashed the Clinton administration's approach to North Korea, the fact is that they continued the same ill-conceived policy of offering (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Il access to nuclear technology," complained Markey.