Monday, October 13, 2008

Over the River and Through the Puffer, To the Nuclear Plant We Go

Jeff spent 4 days last week touring a nuclear plant. I can tell you one thing: you need not worry about the security of the country's nuclear facilities. Jeff and his cohorts spent a day and a half going through training and testing before before being certified to enter the nuclear side of the plant. This training including reading several hundred pages of documents and taking multiple tests, which had to receive a score of 80% or better. One of the guys from the shop in Canada had an especially rough time, since he speaks French and had to translate everything in his head. It took him 3 1/2 days to complete the testing. So, as a result of his efforts he got to spend exactly 1/2 a day in the plant. In addition to the testing, there is security out the wazoo. Upon entry, the car is inspected very thoroughly for explosives and such. Each person/group must have an escort at all times. One escort can only have a few people in his charge, so they had two or three escorts. Each visitor must go through airport type security and a 'puffer.' This device blasts you with puffs of air from all angles. Above is a vacuum that funnels the air through a testing device that looks for explosive residues. After all this, and I am sure I am forgetting stuff, they document everything that you have on your personage. They even document the color of ink in your pen. Seriously. After all this, they finally got to tour the plant. They got to crawl around inside. After that, they had to go through more security to get out. They had to be scanned for radiation. Then each person's badge number is radio'ed in to security and they release one visitor at a time through a series of gates. It was all quite a process and Jeff is not eager to go back. The testing is good for only a year, and if he goes after that time is up he'll have to do it all again!

How could I forget to mention that all the guards were heavily armed with handguns and M-16's, and large amounts of ammo. There were guard towers everywhere and extra safes with ammo in strategic spots. The plant works with the Green Berets and the other super-secret-forces-whose-name-I-can't-remember to try and break in to the plant.

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