o the Editor:
Re "Nuclear Reactors as Terrorist Targets" (editorial, Jan. 21):
You acknowledge that nuclear plants were not designed to
withstand Sept. 11-type attacks, but call the movement to shut down
the Indian Point reactor pending security upgrades "an
overreaction." This is inconsistent.
Although Indian Point's owner asserts that its 3.5-foot-thick
concrete containment domes could survive a jumbo jet attack, the
engines could penetrate up to six feet of reinforced concrete. The
test you cite of a much smaller aircraft that did not damage a
concrete wall on impact proves nothing, since the wall was not
attached to the ground and was displaced nearly six feet. The test
report said "the major portion of the impact energy went into
movement of the target and not in producing structural damage."
You also did not note the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recent
confirmation that 46 percent of nuclear plants have exhibited
security weaknesses that could have enabled terrorists to gain
access and cause a meltdown.
EDWIN S. LYMAN
Nuclear Control Institute
Washington, Jan. 24,