Politics

Nuclear Plant: We Could Have Shot Daily Caller Reporters If They Got Closer To Reactor

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Officials at a nuclear power plant outside Washington D.C. say journalists from The Daily Caller could have been shot and killed had they gotten closer to the reactors during a recent investigative trip to the site.

To demonstrate that the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant is secure, site vice president George Gellrich told a local paper in Maryland that “lethal force could have been used” if “the reporters had approached a fence or tried to enter the protected area.”

In a story published last week, TheDC reported being able to enter the property of the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant about 50 miles outside Washington, drive through an empty security check point and park not far from a nuclear reactor. A reporter and videographer did not have any contact with security during two visits to the property. (RELATED: Lax Security At Nuclear Power Plant Outside Washington)

A chilling sight to see, at one point during the visit, the journalists watched a large civilian truck — roughly of the size of the trucks used in terror bombings around the world, including at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 — enter through the unmanned checkpoint.

Even though TheDC was able to get about 550 feet away from a reactor, officials at both the power plant and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said the journalists did not actually get close enough to encounter the plant’s security forces.

TheDC made it into what’s referred to as the “owner-controlled area” — not the so-called “protected area” surrounding the area where the reactors sit on the property, they explained.

Speaking to the Gazette in Maryland, Calvert Cliffs site vice president George Gellrich said:

If the reporters had approached a fence or tried to enter the protected area, suspicion would have been raised and lethal force could have been used, Gellrich said. A double fence surrounds the protected area and an alarm will sound if someone enters the area in between the fences and razor wire. From inside the protected area, multiple armed guards are stationed.

“Coming into a nuclear power plant site without authorization and not knowing where you’re going is very dangerous because if you wander into the wrong area, we have authority to use lethal force to protect the site and everyone that comes on site is authorized and briefed as where to go and where not to go,” Gellrich said.

Plant security manager Tuane Young also said:

The reporters who entered the site never entered the protected area and were captured on security cameras. They went through the same traffic path employees do and did not exit their vehicle.

“They were doing acts to not raise suspicion,” Young said.

Kory Raftery, a spokesman for the plant’s owner, Exelon Corporation, told The Daily Caller that manned checkpoints at the entrance of the property are “not required” at all nuclear power plants, though said the plant’s “robust defenses include highly trained paramilitary personnel qualified in antiterrorism techniques; state-of-the art cameras and detection systems; military grade weaponry; and a network of engineered barrier systems and fences to repel unauthorized access.”

He said the corporation’s nuclear power plants are “highly-secure, virtually impenetrable facilities.”

Still, the fact that the nuclear plant has abandoned its security checkpoint at its entrance has concerned some in the community. The plant said it reassigned its officers who used to work the checkpoint to more effective security duties.

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