Nuclear, O&M, Reactors

Nuclear Regulatory Commission shuts down web site over security concerns

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Oct. 11, 2001 — The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its web site Thursday afternoon, citing a need to “protect public health and safety during these difficult times.”

Friday, a commission spokesman said NRC officials were removing material from the site. Some of the key information relates to nuclear reactor safety reports and incident reports posted daily on the site.

“These reactor safety reports are of direct concern to the public,” said Lisa Gue, policy analyst with Public Citizen in Washington. “This is a huge concern to us. Even the public meetings calendar was removed.”

Because the NRC has blocked access to the entire web site, citizens can’t get information about the safety records of nuclear reactors in their communities or documents related to government policy on nuclear power.

“This type of data has nothing to do with a reactor’s vulnerability to an attack but provides the public with data on accidents and mishaps at reactors caused by human or mechanical error,” Public Citizen said.

Public safety activists said they are concerned the NRC will use the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, as an excuse to withhold information to protect the industry instead of the public.

Jan Strasma, spokesman for NRC Region III, said the site should be back up in several days. He was not able to say what types of information would be available on the web site.

Strasma would not comment on why the site was shut down instead of removing specific material that could be regarded as sensitive. Public Citizen noted other federal agencies removed certain material from their web sites but did not shut down the site.

The Department of Transportation removed a national mapping system of pipelines and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed a report on the dangers of a terrorist attack on chemical plants.