Wednesday, August 6, 2008

NRC Looks at Rules on Sharing Security Info with Public

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is taking the unusual step of asking for public comments on how it can increase the security information that it shares with the public. In a Federal Register listing last week the NRC asked how they can increase the public confidence in the safety and security of nuclear power generation by sharing parts of the results of security inspections.


Public Right-to-Know vs Security


There is always a basic conflict between the public’s right-to-know and denying the ‘enemy’ information that makes it easier to plan a successful attack. The results for security inspections at nuclear power plants are a perfect case in point. The public wants to know that they are being protected from the effects of a terrorist attack while dedicated security personnel are trying to prevent such an attack.


Additionally, the public has the right to know that their tax dollars are being spent effectively while there is the fear that incompetent security personnel are hiding bad news just to protect their jobs.




DHS is facing many of the same issues in the development and future enforcement of the CFATS regulations. There have been repeated calls in congressional testimony and the media for more openness in the regulatory process. DHS must balance these calls for more information sharing with the legitimate needs of security. Hopefully, DHS and other security organizations will take a hard look at what the NRC is trying to do.


Balancing these two requirements is always a difficult job. In the post 9/11 environment it has become even more politically charged. The NRC is to be commended for taking a hard look at how to provide the public with the most information while protecting real security. I will be periodically reviewing the comments submitted with a view to how they could be adopted to the similar problems in the chemical facility security arena.

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