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Gov. Holden activated 30 military police officers from the National Guard to enforce protection of Missouri nuclear facilities

November 01, 2001
By: Julian Pecquet
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Bob Holden activated about 30 members of the National Guard on Thursday to beef up security at the Callaway Nuclear Plant and the nuclear reactor at the University of Missouri in Columbia. And FAA regulations issued on Tuesday, and valid until November 6 at 11 p.m., prohibit commercial aircraft from flying under 18,000 feet within 11.5 miles of AmerenUE's Callaway Plant and the Kansas City Plant, which works for the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons program.

"There has been information put out that indicates that individuals now in custody have received training in the area" of nuclear facilities, said Tim Daniel, Missouri's special adviser for homeland security.

Holden's executive order to activate the officers from the 2175th Military Police Company comes as a reaction to the Justice Department's warnings of imminent attacks earlier this week.

"There has been an increased level of information and activity that caused the Attorney General to issue his alert and the others to follow suit," Daniel said.

"I'd rather move and be preventive than have to move and be reactive," Holden said.

Holden said that Missouri's location, military and industrial complex, nuclear facilities and two major metropolitan areas made the state a potential target for further terrorist attacks.

"We're in support of the already excellent security at Callaway," said General Shull, Missouri's adjutant general. "We're just a short term additional layer of security."

Yet the protection at Callaway has not always been 'excellent'.

"There was a test in 1997 in which Callaway did not do well," said spokesperson Michael Cleary. "But whether the plant has failed in the past is irrelevant because it fared very well in most recent years."

Cleary said that Callaway had not requested the military police.

"The decision was taken at the discretion of the state of Missouri," Cleary said. "We have a formidable security force at all times."

Other nuclear sites in the state will not benefit from this troop deployment.

Akira Tokuhiro, director of the nuclear reactor at the University of Missouri in Rolla, said he was not even aware of the governor's decision.

"I was not contacted to give any input," Tokuhiro said. "But we're not as attractive a target in many respects as the reactor in Columbia. In terms of size, we're a 50 CC scooter while Columbia is an 18-wheeler flatbed truck."

"We have increased security since September 11," Tokuhiro said."The big difference is that now we try to only maintain a central staff at the reactor. Prior to September 11, the reactor was much more accessible to the public."

Daniel said the level of threat in Rolla didn't mandate taking extraordinary action.

"It has to do with what we perceive the consequences of a failure to be. The nature of the Rolla facility is different."

Holden said that the security measures were in compliance with federal requests for extra security around the nation, but so far Missouri is paying for the $45,000 of an estimated ten day action.

"Right now we're picking it up," Holden said. "We will be making those requests."

Bill Boston, the airport manager for Columbia regional airport, said that his airport would not be greatly affected by the new FAA measures.

"We are about 20 miles from the closest nuclear facility, in Calloway, so we are not directly affected. Pilots who fly from here will be briefed on it. That's the extent of our interest in the regulations."

Steven Dolley, research director at the Nuclear Control Institute (NCI) in Washington, D.C., thinks that more consideration should be given to the airspace above the nuclear facilities.

"NTI has recommended serious consideration of antiaircraft weaponry to protect nuclear power plants," Dolley said."It needs to be given immediate consideration by federal and state government."

"Security needs to be permanently upgraded for the long term," Dolley said.