This week's document:
Every Friday, POGO will strive to make one document available that we or others have obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), especially documents that have not previously been posted online. Some of these documents will be more important than others, some may only be of historical interest— although relevance is in the eye of the beholder. POGO is doing this to highlight the importance of open government and FOIA throughout the year.
By NICK SCHWELLENBACH
Mohammed Atta, the Al Qaeda terrorist who piloted American Airlines Flight 11, which struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, "considered targeting a nuclear facility during familiarization flights near New York," according to the 9/11 Commission report. It is widely believed that this "nuclear facility" is Indian Point Energy Center, which is 38 miles north of New York City.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for regulating America's nuclear power industry, a responsibility that includes overseeing the nuclear industry's security and safety measures. According to an NRC Office of Inspector General (OIG) document POGO obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, questions have been raised about the methodology NRC used for assessing the impact of large commercial aircraft on new nuclear power plants:
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), initiated this investigation based on a proactive initiative to identify instances where it appeared that NRC might not have followed agency processes regarding significant regulatory matters. At the time this investigation was initiated, the NRC was considering whether the Riera methodology was an appropriate tool for new reactor applicants to use to assess the potential effects of the impact of a large commercial aircraft on new nuclear power plants. OIG reviewed whether or not the NRC followed established procedures and processes regarding the appropriateness of using the Riera methodology for aircraft impact analysis.
Additionally, during the investigation, OIG identified information that suggested NRC may have inappropriately released information to licensees by providing them with data that could be reverse engineered using calculations from the Riera methodology to reveal classified information. Therefore, OIG reviewed whether or not the NRC appropriately handled Riera-related information in accordance with the NRC information security process.