Fission Stories #124: Don’t Blow It Out of Proportion

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In February 1997, security guards at the Waterford nuclear plant outside New Orleans, Louisiana made an unusual (hopefully) discovery:

The licensee notified two local sheriff’s departments that site security found a box labeled “explosives” in a building located outside the protected area but on licensee controlled property. The explosives may have been used to test an explosive detector at the protected area entrance. The building has been secured awaiting the arrival of the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office personnel.

Our Takeaway

Does this make you wonder how they test the bulletproof glass used at Waterford?

On second thought, I withdraw the question. They don’t need any more bad security ideas.


“Fission Stories” is a weekly feature by Dave Lochbaum. For more information on nuclear power safety, see the nuclear safety section of UCS’s website and our interactive map, the Nuclear Power Information Tracker.

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About the author: Mr. Lochbaum received a BS in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1979 and worked as a nuclear engineer in nuclear power plants for 17 years. In 1992, he and a colleague identified a safety problem in a plant where they were working. When their concerns were ignored by the plant manager, the utility, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), they took the issue to Congress. The problem was eventually corrected at the original plant and at plants across the country. Lochbaum joined UCS in 1996 to work on nuclear power safety. He spent a year in 2009-10 working at the NRC Training Center in Tennessee. Areas of expertise: Nuclear power safety, nuclear technology and plant design, regulatory oversight, plant license renewal and decommissioning

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  • suanne Gordon

    nice but what is being don with the cache of spent fuel? isn’t this a serious safety issue. also if i may ask off topic. on 3/23/2011 Kyodo reported that neutron beams were spotted 13 times. do you have any info? i have asked elsewhere but nobody knows, a few remember seeing the article but it was only done once and then of course pulled by japanese gov. i’m guessing. could you please give me,in your opinion, the ramifications of such an event and the risk. i imagine them to be vast given the secrecy.thank you for your time.