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CP&L: Extra Security Not Needed

Mark Erwin recently wrote Gov. Mike Easley and S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges requesting they use National Guard troops to protect the plants from potential terrorist attacks. Erwin, a Charlotte resident, served under former President Clinton as ambassador to three island nations in the Indian Ocean.

According to The (Raleigh) News & Observer, Erwin's letter states that because nuclear power plants are vulnerable, they should have "the equipment only available to our military including ground-to-air missiles" to prevent attacks.

Erwin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

But Carolina Power & Light Co. spokesman Keith Poston said the company's facilities, like the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant located about 30 miles southeast of Chapel Hill, already have protective features in place.

Nuclear power plants have been on a heightened security alert since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Poston said the plants are guarded by heavily armed, well-trained individuals who work closely with plant operations.

"The nuclear plants are protected, and their safety is ensured by the design of the plant, by the extensive security measures that are in place and by the support of federal state and local law enforcement, national intelligence agencies and the U.S. military," Poston said. "There are numerous agencies working together to ensure safety and security at nuclear power plants."

Fred Hartman, Easley's press secretary, said the North Carolina governor does not plan to call the National Guard to protect the facilities for several reasons.

"They really are among the most secure facilities in the world," Hartman said.

"They haven't asked us for our assistance. There isn't a whole lot that the National Guard could provide for them that they couldn't do themselves."

Easley has visited two of the three nuclear plants in North Carolina during his year in office, and his secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety has visited all three.

Poston said that in recent history, the National Guard has never been called in to protect CP&L's four nuclear power plants.

"Our view is we're not sure the National Guard troops would provide any significant increase in security at our plant," he said.

The industry is conducting a top-to-bottom review of safety and security measures in light of the terrorist attacks, Poston said.

"Any changes that are recommended will be implemented immediately in addition to the enhancements we've had in place since September 11," he said.

Poston said these enhancements are a part of the post-Sept. 11 heightened security alert and call for an increased security presence and a much greater coordination with intelligence, military, law enforcement and emergency response officials.

"Nuclear security is something we take seriously," Poston said.

"We're doing a good job of keeping the community and our plant safe."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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