Security, Emergency Ops at North Carolina Nuclear Plant OKed after Test

Mock radiation leak tests facility and community emergency operations planning

The real worry is about terrorists who might try to get past the heavily armed security patrols, razor wire fences, microwave-detection systems and guard towers, Brittain said.

That is the reason for the force-on-force exercises. It also is why Brittain and others at the plant will try to slip a single individual past security from time to time to test the systems.

There has not been a threat against any of the nation's 104 nuclear power plants since Sept 11, 2001.

Two area residents have called local authorities, though, to report what they thought was suspicious activity. Both cases, one involving an ultralight plane and the other a case of mistaken identity by a landlord, turned out to be false alarms.

In one, a resident of Carolina Beach notified the Brunswick Sheriff's Office that an ultralight aircraft was about to fly over the plant.

Brittain said the ultralight was flown by a doctor in Carolina Beach, across the Cape Fear River from the plant, and didn't go over plant property.

But the calls illustrate a level of public concern, the kind of concern that has caused Boiling Springs Lakes resident Alan Pascucci and his wife to get potassium iodide pills.

"It's a new reality," said Pascucci, owner of Timeless Treasures on Moore Street in Southport. "It's something we all have to get used to."