Nuclear plants near Boston tighten security after bombs

Seabrook Pilgrim nuclear power plant Massachusetts New Hampshire Boston Marathon bomb explosions

By Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst, GenerationHub

Two nuclear plants in New England heightened their “security posture” in the hours following the April 15 bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon, an NRC representative confirmed April 16.

“The NRC did not order a change in security posture because of the Boston Marathon bombing; however, the Seabrook and Pilgrim plants heightened their security posture on their own volition,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson David McIntyre said in an email. “As of this morning, Pilgrim remains on heightened alert, but Seabrook has reverted to its normal security posture,” he added.

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) operates the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, Mass. Pilgrim is located approximately 55 miles south of Boston. It is the only nuclear plant operating within Massachusetts. NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) runs the Seabrook plant in Seabrook, N.H. Seabrook is roughly 45 miles north of Boston.

Both NRC and nuclear plant operators are routinely tight-lipped about security measures. NRC did require various additions to an already-significant security regime in the years following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Some of these changes are not publicly-available information, according to NRC.

“All I can say is that Pilgrim Station is secure,” a plant spokesperson said early April 16. She said that plant management is very much aware of the Boston bombings. The spokesperson also noted that Entergy had taken Pilgrim offline April 14 for a regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

“We are and have been in contact with state and federal authorities to assure the highest level of security at Seabrook station,” a NextEra spokesperson said April 16. “We are safe and secure.”

While NRC does not discuss individual plant security plans, the agency did put on a significant security exhibit during its annual March Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) in Rockville, Md.

In addition to background checks for employees and vendors with access to nuclear plants, NRC-licensed plans have significant physical barriers and a security force equipped with bullet-resistant vests and a wide array of weaponry.

As of mid-morning April 16, the Wall Street Journal was reporting that three people were killed and more than 176 sent to the hospital, some with severe injuries, as a result of bombs set off shortly before 3 p.m. ET the day before near the finish line of the famous marathon. Seventeen people were in critical condition, WSJ reported.

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