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AFTERWORD The Big Duck Shoot BY ANNA MAYO 0 ver and over again throughout the dogged 70s, when I began reporting on all things nuclear, intervenors at licensing hearings would pipe up that an airplane might crash into a nuclear reactor. And over and over again, the electric utility applying for the reactor license would pooh pooh this scenario as “not credible.” But now, Allah Mia, it was suddenly not not credible; to the contrary it was very credible indeed. It had a beard, baggy pants and a funny hatand there were 150 or so of them, nuclear kamikazes, who were said to be just panting to ram a commercial airliner into a nuclear facility. After September 11, the International Atomic Energy Agency blubbered in public. Headquartered in Vienna, IAEA is a UN satellite agency that unremittingly promotes the sale of nuclear power reactors \(and hence States, and which has never, for as long as I can remember, been known to find the slightest defect in its perfectly swell product. Maybe the televised World Trade Center crater reminded the Japanese delegate of Hiroshima. Whatever it was, he came right out and said that a nuclear power reactor was definitely not designed to take a direct hit from a commercial jet plane loaded with fuel and going 500 miles an hour and that nuclear reactorsincluding the 53 in his homelandare, frankly, indefensible. President Bush retorted that the United States would shoot down a hijacked passenger plane before it could crash into a reactor. He created a new post: Homeland Security Director plunked an old friend, decorated war hero and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge. Mr. Ridge promptly bragged, during an interview with Tom Brokaw, that he would be the one making The CallThe Call, that is to the President, to advise him that a passenger jet was approaching a nuclear plant and needed to be shot down. But in a delicious op-ed piece, Frank Rich of The New York Times pointed out that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s codified chain of command did not include the Homeland Director. Since I live under the volcano, as it weredownwind of Indian Point, the nuclear plant on the Hudson that is owned and operated by Entergy Corporation, the second-largest of America’s kinky new limited-liability nuclear power plant chains, I spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I started to come up with a list of questions. First, there was some basic stuff that I assume could be taken care of in short order, such as the telephone call problem. Who makes the call? But there were other knotty issues, starting with the dimensions of the no-fly zones around the reactors. On the one hand, you want the nukes to have all the no-fly space they can get; on the other hand, a decrease in overall available air space increases the probability of collisions. Then again, since a jumbo jet takes one minute to get from the no-fly perimeter to the targeted nuclear site, would there be enough time for the Homeland Director or the U.S. Air Force, or whoever, to reach the President and then relay his order to the artillery assigned to shoot the plane down? And just what type of artillery might this be? Should we follow the example of France, which has ringed its nuclear reactors with anti-aircraft guns? Or, since these are awkward -to move Should we follow the example of France, which has ringed its nuclear reactors with anti-aircraft guns? Or, since these are awkward to move around, might it not be less cumbersome to equip gunners with shoulder-fired missiles? \(In a jollier era 12/21/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29