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Security overhauled at Seabrook plant

Barriers, training improved as part of post-9/11 plans

SEABROOK, N.H. -- The Seabrook nuclear plant has a new layer of fencing, bullet-resistant guard towers, new concrete barriers, and better-trained security officers as part of new national security requirements.

The plant has spent $14 million in the past year improving security as part of requirements instituted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The improvements include a 1,500-foot-long vehicle barrier system and double fencing to keep intruders out.

High-tech detection equipment is available to keep trespassers from penetrating the plant's fencing system and employees pass through explosives detectors, metal detectors, and X-ray machines. The plant's perimeter also has several manned and bullet-resistant towers.

John Giarrusso, the plant's security manager, said the number of security personnel is ''well over 100," of which 75 percent have prior security, law enforcement, or military experience. Of the total, all but four are employees of Wackenhut Security, a private company.

Giarrusso said applicants for security positions undergo a psychological assessment, as well as education, credit, and FBI checks going back three years, and alcohol and drug screenings.

The plant uses a hand configuration identity system in critical areas. Employee handprints are registered in a plant computer database.

Before coming on site, applicants for security positions undergo eight to 10 weeks of training.

''Mock adversity team" drills, which depict trespassers, are used in training security personnel. Different drills are done weekly.

David Barr, who coordinates the center's educational programs, said that in its history, Seabrook Station has experienced nine ''unusual events," the lowest level of operational problems.

There have been no ''alerts," the second-lowest level of operating problem, or ''site area emergencies," a more significant problem that can result in the release of small amounts of radiation.

In addition, the facility has not had a ''general emergency," the most significant operational problem, which could result in the release of significant amounts of radiation and also could require evacuations.

The plant, set on 900 acres, hugs a portion of a salt marsh, a natural barrier that also helps protect it from trespassers, officials said. The plant generates enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes throughout New England.

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