Anti-Nukes Will Have To Look Elsewhere For Backing
AOPA last week told the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission that fears about general aviation
raised by two groups opposed to California's Diablo Canyon nuclear
power plant are unwarranted.
The San Luis Obispo Mothers For Peace and the Union of Concerned
Scientists petitioned the NRC for better protection from potential
terrorist attacks, including suicide aircraft assaults, at Diablo
Canyon. The petition specifically mentioned general aviation.
But in a formal response to the petition, AOPA reiterated that
the average GA aircraft is incapable of causing significant damage
and that the government and the aviation community have implemented
general aviation security enhancements.
"While the terrorist
attacks of September 11 were not orchestrated using general
aviation aircraft ... the general aviation industry has taken a
very proactive approach to security issues," wrote Andy Cebula,
AOPA senior vice president of Government and Technical Affairs. He
noted the Airport Watch program, created by AOPA in conjunction
with the Transportation Security Administration; a 12-point
security proposal put forth by the General Aviation Coalition, much
of which has been adopted by the FAA and TSA into federal security
procedures; and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association
efforts with the US Treasury Department to flag suspicious aircraft
As for any actual threat posed by light GA aircraft, Cebula
referred the NRC to an AOPA-commissioned independent study,
"Nuclear Security — General Aviation is not a Threat,"
conducted by Robert Jefferson, an internationally recognized
nuclear safety and security expert. In his report, Jefferson
concluded that GA aircraft could not penetrate the reactor
containment building, an explosive-laden GA aircraft could not
cause a release of radiation, and a small aircraft attack on
auxiliary buildings would not cause a safety failure.
AOPA told the NRC that the petition by the two groups ignores
the very basic physical differences between a small 1,200-pound
general aviation aircraft and a 200,000-pound airliner.
Said Cebula about the petition, "Mothers For Peace and the Union
of Concerned Scientists may be sincere in their concerns about
safety at nuclear power plants, but dragging general aviation into
the argument just doesn't make sense and does nothing to support