27 Attorney Generals send letter to NRC

Attorney Generals of 27 states wrote a letter requesting new legislation to protect our states and communities from terrorist attacks.


A Communication From the Chief Legal Officers of the following States:

Arizona * Arkansas * California * Colorado * Connecticut * Georgia * Hawaii * Iowa * Maryland * Massachusetts * Michigan * Minnesota * Mississippi * Montana * Nevada * New Jersey * New Mexico * New York * North Carolina * Ohio * Oregon * Pennsylvania * Rhode Island * Vermont * West Virginia * Washington * Wisconsin

October 8, 2002

Honorable Tom Daschle
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4326
Honorable Trent Lott
Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Honorable Richard Gephardt
House Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Senators Daschle and Lott and Representatives Hastert and Gephardt,

We, the undersigned Attorneys General, are writing to urge the passage of legislation this year to protect our states and communities from terrorist attacks against civilian nuclear power plants and other sensitive nuclear facilities.

Earlier this year, President Bush underscored the threat to nuclear power plants in his State of the Union address, wherein he pointed out that diagrams of U.S. nuclear power plants were found in Al Qaeda enclaves in Afghanistan. Subsequent classified and non-classified warnings have been provided to nuclear plant operators and the public indicating that the potential threat to nuclear plants is very real. Congressional hearings and official reports further underscore concerns about security and the vulnerability of spent fuel storage.

The consequences of a catastrophic attack against a nuclear power plant are simply incalculable. It is evident that urgent steps must be taken to bolster the efforts of private nuclear power plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to minimize the potential threat and expand emergency response capability should such an attack occur.

It is essential that we focus the necessary expertise of relevant federal agencies through a rational process to upgrade security at nuclear power plants. An interagency Task Forceâchaired by the NRC and working in concert with the Director of Homeland Security, should be created and tasked to recommend changes to enhance the physical security of nuclear plants, increase security measures, expand emergency response capability, and enhance protections for one of the most vulnerable components of a nuclear power plantâits spent fuel pools. The NRC should then upgrade its rules in response to the expert recommendations of the interagency Task Force.

We need legislation that will create a nuclear infrastructure anti-terrorism team to respond to threats against nuclear power plants. Such legislation must also provide states and local governments with training and financial resources to expand their capacity to prevent attacks and provide wider emergency response capability. The legislation should also direct improvements to NRCâs licensing processes over radiological devices and materials, such as sealed sources used in medical equipment. Such improvements will assist federal efforts to recapture these types of radiological materials which could be used by terrorists.

An entire year has passed since the horrific acts of September 11th and some limited steps have been taken to upgrade security at nuclear plants. However, a systematic approach to protect the public health and well-being has not yet been institutionalized. Despite interim measures, a revised security plan for nuclear plants will not be finalized by the NRC until March of 2003. We urge the Congress to drive a more aggressive timetable yet this session with results that will raise public confidence in the security of nuclear plants from sophisticated attacks that could be launched from air, water and land.

The passage of legislation is urgent. Threats against these facilities must be matched with appropriate regulatory requirements, added resources and heightened protections.

Thank you for your consideration.


Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire
Attorney General of Washington

Attorney General Janet Napolitano
Attorney General of Arizona

Attorney General Mark Pryor
Attorney General of Arkansas

Attorney General Bill Lockyer
Attorney General of California

Attorney General Ken Salazar
Attorney General of Colorado

Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker
Attorney General of Georgia

Attorney General Tom Miller
Attorney General of Iowa

Attorney General Tom Reilly
Attorney General of Massachusetts

Attorney General Mike Hatch
Attorney General of Minnesota

Attorney General Mike McGrath
Attorney General of Montana

Attorney General David Damson
Attorney General of New Jersey

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General Anzai
Attorney General of Hawaii

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.
Attorney General of Maryland

Attorney General Jennifer Granholm
Attorney General of Michigan

Attorney General Mike Moore
Attorney General of Mississippi

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa
Attorney General of Nevada

Attorney General Patricia Madrid
Attorney General of New Mexico

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General of New York

Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery
Attorney General of Ohio

Attorney General Mike Fisher
Attorney General of Pennsylvania

Attorney General William H. Sorrell
Attorney General of Vermont

Attorney General James E. Doyle
Attorney General of Wisconsin

Attorney General Roy Cooper
Attorney General of North Carolina

Attorney General Hardy Myers
Attorney General of Oregon

Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse
Attorney General of Rhode Island

Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw, Jr.
Attorney General of West Virginia

cc: Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Honorable Frank Murkowski
Honorable W. J. "Billy" Tauzin
Honorable John Dingell