Bill calls for background checks at utilities

Senator Charles Schumer cited a report on power plant security. Senator Charles Schumer cited a report on power plant security.
Associated Press / August 15, 2011

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ALBANY, N.Y. - A loophole in the law does not require workers hired at most power plants to undergo FBI background checks, even though a federal report warns the plants are a likely target for terrorists, Senator Charles Schumer said yesterday in unveiling legislation that would change that.

Schumer cited a recent Department of Homeland Security report that found disgruntled former employees have sensitive inside information that would be sought by terrorists. The report also says current employees have been solicited by unidentified outsiders.

Last fall, Al Qaeda urged recruits to take jobs in potential terrorist targets such as power plants where they could inflict significant damage, the federal report said.

“Power plants and utilities present a tempting and potentially catastrophic target to extremists who are bent on wreaking havoc on the United States, which is why thorough background checks on all workers with access to the most sensitive areas of these operations are a must,’’ Schumer said.

His bill would require FBI background checks on all employees of major power plants, he said.

Schumer said the report shows that Al Qaeda is recruiting terrorists to work in sensitive locations such as electric, gas, and water utilities.

Nuclear plant workers are already required to submit to a thorough background check, but Schumer says utilities and power plants are not covered.