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New bills outline when deadly force could be used to protect Michigan nuclear plants

Federal law regulates nuclear power plants in almost every way. But state law dictates the use of force to keep people off the property.

State Rep. Al Pscholka introduced the bill. He says it was not inspired by any actual security breaches.

“I mean these are very safe facilities; this will just give them a little extra muscle, a little extra tools to keep everybody safe,” Pscholka said. “I think you always want to stay one step ahead of the terrorists because he only has to get lucky once and we have to be vigilant every day.”

Pscholka has two nuclear power plants in his southwest Michigan district – Palisades Nuclear Plant and the Cook Energy Center. The bill would also apply to the Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant and Big Rock Point where old nuclear fuel is stored near Charlevoix.

The bills would allow security officers to use deadly force if they believe a person breaking into a nuclear plant is trying to commit a crime or threatens the officer’s safety. It allows them to use physical force, other than deadly, to stop someone from trespassing on plant grounds. It also grants plant owners immunity from civil liability for an officer's conduct.

Pscholka uses this analogy:

“You can protest and jump up and down and scream and yell outside the White House, but as soon as you jump on that gate, the rules change a little bit,” he said.

Pscholka says people from the nuclear industry and law enforcement officers gave him the idea for the bill, which he says has been adopted in a handful of other states.

The house’s committee on energy and technology will hold hearings on the bills beginning February 25.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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