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Industry News

Energy Industry Reacts to Attack on U.S.

LCG, Sept. 12, 2001--The attack on the United States by an as yet unidentified foreign power yesterday spawned immediate security precautions in the electric power industry -- particularly the commercial nuclear power sector.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommended "purely as a precaution" that all nuclear power plants, non-power reactors, nuclear fuel facilities and gaseous diffusion plants go to the highest level of security. Details of the heightened security are classified, the NRC said.

"We are in the process of communicating to fuel facilities and all plants to implement heightened security measures," said Jan Strasma, spokesman for the NRC. "At this time we know of no specific threats to any nuclear facilities."

Strasma said the nuclear plants are responsible for security individually. He pointed out that the concrete containment buildings that surround and protect the reactor core at all U.S. nuclear plants are designed to withstand direct impact of a 747 jet plane.

Downtown Manhattan was without power in some locations following the attacks on the World Trade Center, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York said. "The additional outages were due to the fire and collapse at 7 World Trade Center. It's hard to say how long power will be out," Con Edison spokesman Michael Clendenin said.

Progress Energy chief executive Bill Cavanaugh said in a statement that the company's nuclear plants, which are operated by Carolina Power & Light Co. and Florida Power Corp., had put the NRC's "heightened security" measures into effect.

Alan Mikus, a spokesman for Reliant Energy Inc.'s Texas Nuclear Plant, also said his facility was operating under the NRC directive, and Florida Power & Light Co. reassured those in its state that both St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear reactors are housed in reinforced concrete, steel-lined containment buildings built to withstand adverse weather such as hurricanes and floods, earthquakes and even a crashing airliner.

Arizona Public Service Co. said all three 1,270 megawatt units at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant were operating normally at full power, but employees not required for operating the reactors were sent home. The company said it had beefed up security at all of its facilities.

In Philadelphia, Peco Energy Co. said it would relocate its emergency telephone services from its Center City headquarters and bolster its workforce in the field to heighten safety awareness and ensure continued customer service. The company said it had "released" non-essential workers but would maintain its system operation and a "skeletal" customer call center in downtown Philly.

Duke Energy Corp. chief executive Rick Priory said "We are operating as normally as possible -- considering the tragic circumstances that have occurred," adding, "We are working to ensure that the energy infrastructure we provide continues to operate without interruption."

In North Carolina 27 electric cooperatives went on alert, according to the North Carolina Electric Membership Corp. Chuck Terrill, chief executive of the group, said they have been in regular contact with their primary power suppliers, including Raleigh-based Carolina Power & Light Co. NCEMC owns 28 percent of Catawba Nuclear Plant in York, S.C., which is managed by Duke Energy.

Editorial Comment: Remember Pearl Harbor

Yesterday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not the work of a few suicidal members of a fringe "terrorist" group. They were the work of a foreign enemy, either directly or through support of whomever carried out the attacks.

The first official estimate of fatalities in the World Trade Center was 10,000, including firefighters, police officers and rescue crews on the ground -- a total far greater than the loss of life in the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. That attack resulted in four years of warfare that brought death to a million and a half of the enemy.

Yesterday's attacks call for retribution no less severe. President Bush seems to agree.

Speaking less than 12 hours after the attacks, Bush said, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and (the nations) who harbor them."

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