|Quoting AirCop (Reply 12):|
Do you tip off staff at a nuclear staff that a security test is pending? No..
Often - nuclear plant security is in fact "tipped off." Let me explain - and let me explain why that is necessary.
For certain simple test (such as someone smuggling in a gun or explosives) the routine security guards will not be tipped (although often very high level security people and very high plant management will know that such a test is going on because they authorized it). An example might be a trusted plant employee provided a letter signed by the site vice president and the head of security authorizing them to attempt to smuggle a real weapon or an explosive device into the plant during a certain period of time such as in a week to a month (at least those are the two signatures I'd require). I do know of employees who have in the past been used for such testing.
Direct NRC employees may also engage in such testing without prior authorization at the plant level. When caught all they have to do is announce that this was a test. I have never heard of a NRC employee actually trying to smuggle in a weapon or a bomb - but they do go through emergency use doors that are almost never opened just to see what the plant security response is (the last one of these that I am aware of was an emergency exit door from the RCA (Radiological Control Area) to the turbine building. RP
then had to ensure the NRC employee and the area was not contaminated after security responded.
Nuclear plants are required by law to conduct realistic "force on force" drills where a small group of well trained/well armed people - with the help of a key person inside the plant - tries to penetrate to the plant control room or other vital plant area. These drills are very realistic - and the people on the assault teams are usually ex Green Beret / Navy Seals who's full time job is to plan and execute assaults on a nuclear plants.
These major test are always pre-announced (usually down to a 12 or 24 hour window), although the exact time and location of the assault is not known. A special duplicate in manning test defense force is used as the real security/defense force still has to protect the plant from a real threat.
The quickest way thought the perimeter security fences is by using explosives (which is what a real attack would do) - and these people do blow the fence (and extra real security forces with real weapons are on standby to appropriately secure the blown fences while standby repair crews fix the blown fences immediately after the drill). They, and the drill defense force, are armed with special weapons that shoot blanks for noise and laser beams to determine what they hit. All participants wear laser sensitive equipment so they know if they are injured (where) and how severe. Explosive devices to blow doors and anti-personel grenades are assumed (and drill devices are carried and used). Drill managers declare access doors open and people out of action (or limited action) based on what happens.
In addition to these major test, the security teams drill regularly on other intrusions (without blowing the fence). Again the drill teams are not the actual on duty teams - and such drills are scheduled.
For the major test - real people would die if people were not pre-notified and special test security teams not used.
For Airport Security testing you are not dealing with the level of armed response and automatic lock-down that exist at a nuclear facility. Thus, I see no reason why security teams would need to be tipped for any testing.
Despite all the hype about a terrorist threat against a nuclear plant.... with huge possible environmental consequences. These plants are the best secured and most hardened places in the world (and I would say that they are even better secured than actual nuclear warhead magazines - or at least what I saw for such security when I was in the Navy). Successful terrorist attack against a nuclear plant with "disastrous" environmental results... I don't believe it - unless they show up with a very sizable and overwhelming force - and have detailed knowledge of the exact plant security system, plant equipment and controls. I have seen people put out supposed methods on how if well trained terrorist got control of the control room that they could melt down the reactor in minutes. Really, how... (and lets just say that I know a lot of things I'm not willing to post on reactor and plant safety on this forum). People like me get paid to think up ways to actually melt down the reactor and identify them. Several hundred people at each plant - with detailed knowledge of the actual plant equipment and controls have been dreaming up plausible equipment damage / core meltdown scenarios and then insuring that it can't reasonably be done for decades at all of the US Nuclear Power Plants. We have the initial Design Basis Accidents (Loss of Coolant Accident, Station Blackout, Earthquake, Direct hit by a Tornado, Fire in the control room, Fire in vital areas, etc) then a series of other items identified after the plant was built (I currently work at one of the older plants), and finally things that have been identified as potential major emergencies although no one knows how you would get there. I'm not going to say it is perfect... but I don't see a truly major failure of all the systems built in place, nor do I see an easy way to disable them all. There are redundant methods and multiple backups everywhere, and the vast majority of it all works automatically.