Nuclear Plant War Games Highlight Security Risks
Imagine you’re an engineer at a nuclear power plant that contains some of the most dangerous materials known to man. Suddenly, commandos slip past security guards, killing some of your colleagues and blowing up key facilities, potentially leaking deadly radioactive substances into the atmosphere and putting surrounding communities at risk of contamination. That’s exactly what has taken place at 24 of the United States’ 104 commercially active nuclear power plants. The only thing is, none of it was real.
In an effort by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to test security at the country’s nuclear power plants, mock raids are conducted yearly. Like something out of the movies, trained security personnel mimic real-life security breeches, targeting both plant personnel and key facility buildings for termination.
Using a high-tech military-grade laser weapon system known as MILES (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System), the mock commandos simulate gunfire. The assaults are pre-announced so there is no confusion as to whether or not a “real” attack is taking place. They are also carried out on three consecutive nights, so each shift of the plants’ security forces have an opportunity to partake in the simulation.
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In last year’s mock assaults, commandos were able to successfully damage or destroy critical targets at two of the 24 plants attacked according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Inspectors addressed the security issues at the plants and resolved the shortcomings, but the NRC refuses to release information identifying which plants failed the test, citing concerns that they may be targeted if identities were revealed.
The NRC claims that roughly one-quarter of U.S. nuclear plants undergo such “war game” style assaults each year, with between two and four being breeched by mock commandos on average. NRC spokeswoman Holly Harrington says, "We don't characterize (the results) as good or bad because the plants must adhere to our security regulations, period. If there are these failures, which from time to time occur, they are fixed and the plants are told they have to meet these requirements."
This year the NRC will conduct 25 security drills, three of which will address the corrective actions of plants that failed in the past. According to Harrington, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the frequency and strenuousness of the drills became more intense. “The realism went up,” she says.
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.