Shots Fired at TN Nuclear Plant

Posted: Apr 22, 2013 7:50 AM

Tennessee's NBC affiliate reported yesterday:

A TVA spokesperson confirmed that a security officer patrolling TVA Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City was involved in a shootout with a suspect Sunday at about 2:00 a.m.

The security incident happened on the Tennessee River side of the plant property, more than a quarter mile from the plant's protected area, which houses its reactor and power production facilities.

TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said the subject traveled up to the plant on a boat and walked onto the property.  When the officer questioned the suspect, the individual fired multiple shots at the officer. The officer shot back, and when he called for backup, the suspect sped away on his boat. 

This occurrence has been classified as an "unusual event," -- the lowest of four emergency designations.  But let's not forget that US intelligence has found indications that Al Qaeda is interested in targeting nuclear and chemical plants

So what does all this mean? If reporters were doing their jobs, the linked piece would tell us how often events like this occur.  It's hard to imagine that armed men show up frequently at nuclear power plants in the middle of the night -- but if they do, that's news, too, right?

Isn't this information worthy of broader circulation? Yet, so far, in the now-famous formula of the WaPo's Sarah Kliff, it's apparently being covered like "local crime" -- rather than as a story that could have some important national implications.