What Is Nuclear Security?


nuclear plant
When you think of nuclear security, do you conjure up worst-case scenarios of Russian invasions and the threat of nuclear war? Or are you more concerned with the security of our nation’s nuclear power plants and a Chernobyl-sized meltdown? Nuclear security actually covers a lot of territory. Its goal is to protect people, animals, plants, and the whole planet! From those big scary threats from foreign countries to tiny slivers of radioactive seeds used in cancer treatment, the security of nuclear materials is of critical concern to us all.

Nuclear Weapons Security

The Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and other military agencies are all on guard to make certain that Americans are protected from foreign and domestic threats from nuclear weapons. The agencies unite to bolster national security and ensure the integrity and safety of nuclear arms. That refers to direct defense, but also the secure storage of weapons stockpiles.

Among the strategies used are detection technologies, personnel training, and nuclear forensics. Tools such as radiation portal monitors at seaports, land borders, and mail facilities help detect dangerous levels of radiation. Highly trained nuclear security officers and administrators work onsite to protect facilities and communities. And nuclear forensics helps to determine sources and pathways of radioactive materials. Homeland Security even has an initiative that targets high-risk cities such as New York City and Los Angeles for added protection and security against attack.

Nuclear Power Plant Security

Although power plants may be the target of terrorists, their day-to-day safety may be a more important consideration. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is the government agency in charge of making sure nuclear power plants stay safe. It licenses plants and regularly inspects them to ensure they abide by strict protocols for safety including:

  • Physical barriers
  • Bullet-resistance
  • Electron surveillances
  • Access controls for workers and visitors
  • Employee background checks
  • Training of security officers
  • Personnel patrol
  • Cybersecurity protocols

Multi-layered safety systems keep U.S. nuclear power plants safe.

Security of Nuclear Medicine

The NRC also oversees the use of radioactive materials in medicine. If you’ve ever had an X-ray, you understand that you are exposed to radiation. But with an X-Ray, radiation waves are sent through your body from the outside. With nuclear medicine, you’re given a radiopharmaceutical and scans are created using internal radiation. Two scans that use this methodology are Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography or SPECT and Positron Emission Tomography or PET scans. The NRC regulates the use of the materials and machines used in these scans and other types of nuclear medicine.

Dangers of Nuclear Materials

While nuclear medicine can save lives and nuclear plants provide energy, improper use of or exposure to their radioactive materials be deadly to all forms of life. Exposure to large amounts of radioactivity can damage DNA, negatively affect nervous systems, and increase the risk of cancers. When radioactivity seeps into water and soil, it can adversely affect people and animals for decades. That’s why nuclear security is so important.

Nuclear Enterprise Security Jobs

It takes an experienced team of well-trained and dedicated professionals to handle the responsibilities of securing nuclear materials. From administrators and government officials to the men and women on foot patrol at facilities across the country, there are many roles in nuclear enterprise security. Here are just a few:

  • Nuclear Plant Security Director: As a security director, you would provide oversight to ensure the security of the plant and its personnel. You would make sure that regulations, procedures, and safety protocols are followed.
  • Emergency Planner: As a planner specializing in radiation emergencies, you would develop plans and procedures for what to do in the event of a radioactive leak.
  • Radiological Emergency Manager: In this role, you prepare for and respond to peacetime radiological emergencies. Coordinating with local, state and federal governments, you contain outbreaks and minimize the effects of radioactive leaks.
  • Radiological Emergency Preparedness Analyst: As an analyst, you would be the expert on how to prepare and prevent radiological accidents. It would be your responsibility to examine drill protocols and real-life incident responses.
  • Nuclear Security Officer: As a nuclear security officer, you would perform regular foot patrols on an entire enterprise facility to ensure its safety and security.

Do you have an interest in nuclear enterprise security? It is an interesting field of critical need to U.S. and world security. And National American University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Enterprise Security Studies that you can complete 100% online. Fill out the form to find out more about this and all our programs.


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