Nation's Power Plants 'Vulnerable', Richland Plant Prepared - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Nation's Power Plants 'Vulnerable', Richland Plant Prepared

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RICHLAND, Wash.- A new eye opening report from the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project claims that all U.S. nuclear power plants are vulnerable to 9/11 style attacks. But representatives from Energy Northwest say, their security is top-notch.

NBC Right Now spoke with Energy Northwest about how advanced their security really is. Nationwide, the nuclear regulatory commission only requires that plants be prepared to protect against attacks carried out by a small group of five or six people, but the Columbia Generating Station is prepared for much more than just a ground assault.

The recent study examined larger scale attacks. Mike Paoli, who has worked in the Pentagon told us that he feels safer at the Columbia Generating Station than at his previous job. In a force-on-force test last year, which simulates an attack on the plant, Energy Northwest successfully protected the Richland plant and scored above average.

"In a post 9/11 environment we added more people, more barriers and more teamwork with local agencies that have made us hands down the best protected facilities in the United States," said Paoli.

Paoli adds that the report focused mostly on attacks to weapons grade plants, which he thinks curved the outcome. Most of the 100 plus plants in the U.S., like Energy Northwest, are energy producing plants. They operate with dramatically lower levels of plutonium and less dangerous chemicals.