Nuclear Facility Surveillance Problems Revealed

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Oct 14, 2013

Nuclear facilities clearly demand maximum security but how do they implement it and what challenges do they face? In this exclusive interview with a nuclear facility security official, IPVM reveals the key problems and fundamental approaches the facility takes in managing security and video surveillance, including the use of video analytics, the problem with wildlife and manned response

Primary Role of Surveillance at a Nuclear Facility

*** ******* ***** ** security ******* ** * nuclear ******** *** ********* protection *** *********** ********* threats **** * ********. The ******* *** ******* live *** ************ ** guards ** ***** ********* and ** ********** ****** patrols.

“**’** ****** ******* *** thieves ** ****** *** maybe ** ****** ** unlawfully ***** *** ********. The **** **** **** talk ***** ** ********* is ‘sabotage’ -- ******** **** could ***** **** ** the ***** *** *** people *** **** ****** the *****. ****’* **** we’re ******* *** ******* it****** ********* ** ******* trying ** *** ***,” he ****. ***, ****** *** Safeguards *********** *** ** information **** ******* ** how ******** *******, ***** fuel ********* *** ********** radioactive ********. 

Hundreds ** ***** ****** ******** ******** 

**** **** ***** ** an *****, ** ******* has ** ******** ******* the ****. ** ***** guards “*** ******* ****” to ******* ** ** alarm ** *** ******** of *** ********. ***** are ***** ******* ***** alerts *** ****. 

******* ** *** ********, the ******** *** * wildlife *******. “**** [*********] wire ** ** ********* that **** * ****** web **** ***** **** it ** * ****** walking ** ** **** set *** ** *****. If ********* ******* *** wire, ***** ** ** alert.” ** ****. 

"** ******* ***** ** at *** ***** ****, they shouldn't ** *****, *** have ******* **** ******** to *** ** ***** fences ** **** ****** be ******** *******," ** said. “Even ** ** *** see ** *** ****** that **'* * **** or **** * **** branch ** *********, ** still **** ** **** a ****** *** ** check **. **’* * pain ********* ********** *** days **** **'* ***** off **** *****.” ***** ** an **** ** *** fence **** ***** ******* tend ** ****** **** sets *** * *** of ******.

***** * ******* ****** of ****** ****** ** a specified **** ******, **** have ** ** * complete ********* *********** *** a ******** ***** ** the ****** ******. ** said ******* ** **** can *** *** ** insects ** *** **** the ******* ***** *** fence ***** *** **** animals*** ** **** * long *** ** ******** alerts.

*** ** **** *** up **** ** **** false ******? "*** ****** to ****, * ***'* know," ** ****. "**** want *** **** ** the ****. **** **** to **** ** ******** is ****** ** ** ****** how *** ** *** small ** ** **** if ** **** ***** more ********." 

Detection ******* ********** 

********* ****

**** ** *** ******* using ******-********* ********* *** most ** **** *** integrated **** *** ********’* perimeter ********* ******. * wire ***** *** ***** line **** ******* ****** sends ****** **** ** the ******** ******* ****.

*******

**** **** ***** ***** is ** ***** *** the **** **** *** camera ***** ****** *** detected **** ************* ******** on *** ******. ** his **** ** *** facility **** **** ***** any ****** *** ******. *** cameras *** *** ********** to ** **** ** ********* between ****** **** **** or ** ******.

********* *** ****** 

*** ****** **** ******** microwave ********* *** **********. The ****** *** ******* used ** "****** ************ of * ****** ** space," ********* ** *** ******* Regulatory ********** *******.

***** ** **** * water-based ********* ****** **** alerts ****** *** **** way ** ******* ** something ******* ******** ** the ***** *********** *** plant. ********, “**** * person **** **** ***** it’s ** ***** *** risk,” ** ****. “*****'* like * ***** **** out ***** ***** ** suck *** ***** ** to **** *** ********. It ***** ** ******** that **** *** *****. We *** * *** of fish ****** ** *****, too, ** ** ******* wants ** **** **** close ** ** ***’* get ** **** *****, then **** ****.”

Inclement *******

** ***** ** ***** conditions **** **** **** on ****** ***** *** deploy ********** ******** ******** throughout *** **** ** supplement.

***********

*** **** *** *** own ***** ** *********** that **** ****** ** security ****** **********. ** a ****** **** ****, the ******* ** ********* fixed ****** ** ****. During **** ******** * functional ****** ** ***** to ***** **** ******’* sector *** ****** *** moved ********** *** **** until *** ****** ** completed.

**********

****** *** ******* ********** posts ****** * ***** so ** *** ***** watch *** ******* *** more **** * *** hours ** * ****.

Cameras ***** ****

*** ***** **** * combination ** ***** *** PTZ ******* ** ***** the ********* *** *** campus. *******, ** ******** to ******* ******* ** the ****** ** *** VMS. *** ******** ** the ******* *** ******** **** *** ** moved ** ******. **** are ******* ********** *** site *** **** ** vehicle *********** ** ********** guards ** *** ****** and ** ******* *********** vehicles.

**** ***** *** ********* in *** ******** **** fixed *******. ** **** certain ***** ***** ********* information ** ****** *** and ***** *******.

** *** *** **** to ******** *** ****** of ******* ** *** site, *** ********* **** it *** **** **** 100. There *** **** ***** cameras ** **** ******* rooms **** *** ********* primarily ** *** ******* room (*** ********). 

Oak ***** ******

**** ****** **** **** spent ***** ** *********, the **** *** ******* facilities ** ***** **** more ** ****** ****** verify ***** (*** ****** always *****) ***** ** important. This ******** *** **** become **** ********* ***** a **** ******** ** Oak ***** ******** (****** our *********** *** *** working ** * ******** at *** ****) . ** that ******, * **** of ******* ********** *** through *** ***** *** made ***** *** **** the *******, ***** ******** and ******* ******* ** the **** ****** ***** of *** ******, ******* ever ********** *** ******. Later *******, * ********** ** ****** ****************** **** ****** *** ignored *** ******, ****** of *** ***** *** the ****** *********** **** sector *** **********. ***** ***** the ********, *** ******** company *** ***** ***** with ******* ********.

Comments (6)

"Why do they put up with so many false alerts? "The answer to that, I don't know," he said. "They want the best of the best. They want to know if anything is coming in no matter how big or how small it is even if it does cause more problems." "

Hear thta folks. They don't need any advanced analytics or detection system. The most basic motion detection camera will go off at the drop of a hat when set on maximum sensitivity. Just set it up so a spider makes it go off and you're good to go.

If they really deploy proper maintenance staff, performance should be just as high a priority as camera downtime. When properly configured, typical perimeter detection systems deployed at nuke plants won't give off so many false alarms. In past experiences with nuke plants, it is far to common for these poor performing and broken systems.

I agree with Brian on this. I have worked in many different environments in perimeter protection and each site and system has it's own unique challenges. I have used all of the technologies mentioned and without exception encountered false alarm triggers when setting systems up. There will always be false alerts but these can be minimised by the following:

1. Correct systems design in the first instance. This requires a holistic approach for perimeter protection to maximise the potential for the technology to work efficiently. An extensive site survey should also highlight environmental issues which will be the main factors in false alerts

2. High quality installation and commissioning processes to ensure that the technology being used is both fit for purpose and tested to ensure that the technology is being installed in compliance with the manufacturers specifications. Many false alarms are as a result of poor installation in the first place.

3. Planned and responsive maintenance.This is not just maintenance of the surveillance and PIDS technology, although this is critical, but also good house keeping. Making sure that trees and bushes and other environmental issues that are controllable are regularly addressed and not allowed to become "background noise" in the alert system.

4. Performance review and testing. Regular system walk tests are the only way to ensure that the system still complies with the original operational requirement. A regular review of the alarms generated false or positive and an action plan to deal with false alarms is essential.

It is frustrating to hear an end user accepting false alarms and poor performance. I have seen this over the the course of my career in surveillance. A steady erosion of the system performance gradually eats away at the effectiveness of the system. False alarms are a fact of life but can be controlled and minimised. This requires a lot of effort on the part of the end user, installation / maintenance company working as a team. Uncontrolled false alarms lead to apathy on the part of control room staff as they are bombarded with nuisance alarms which eventually are seen as noise and are ingnored. Nuisance alarms do not have to be a fact of life.

I'm really surprised you got to interview the guy. I presume he doesn't work in a nuclear facility anymore.

Well you're right about that. But it's because much of the security staff was furloughed or laid off because of the shutdown.

Interestingly, a recent review by the Nuclear Regulatory Comission of separate site than this also found issues with it's perimeter detection system during drills"

A faulty perimeter detection system, which made it impossible for defenders to know where “terrorists” were breaking into the plant site and where they were on the grounds. As a result of being technologically blind during a drill monitored by the NRC on October 11, 2011, the suit states “all of the ‘terrorists’ successfully breached the perimeter and the identified target sets located inside of Indian Point and succeeded in causing a total nuclear meltdown. Not one terrorist was killed by any security personnel during the drill.”

The main issue they found during the drills though was that someone was jamming their communications systems and recording their transmissions.

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