09:20 GMT24 September 2020
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    A new collection of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reveals a total of 24 US nuclear facilities were sites of unexplained drone incursions between December 2014 and October 2019.

    Sputnik reported in mid-July that Douglas D. Johnson, a volunteer researcher with the Scientific Coalition for Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena Studies, had obtained Federal Aviation Administration documents through a FOIA request and found that federal authorities had abandoned an investigation into several mysterious drone sightings in Colorado and Nebraska.

    Later that month, South London-based technology journalist, consultant and author David Hambling reported that additional US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) documents obtained by Johnson detailed at least two occasions in which “a number of small drones” buzzed around the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant in Maricopa County, Arizona.

    The Palo Verde facility generates around 35% of Arizona’s total power capacity, Hambling reported.

    “Officer noticed several drones (5 or 6) flying over the site. The drones are circling the 3 unit site inside and outside the Protected Area,” an official report noted of one such event, which was followed by a similar incident the night after. However, the armed guards were unable to stop either drone flight, which reportedly lasted for some 80 minutes.

    Hambling explained on Monday that a follow-up FOIA request was issued by Johnson, who received a list of at least 57 security incidents (SIDs) that occurred between December 2014 and October 2019.

    The UK-based journalist noted that when the list was generated, three of the incidents were identified as “open” and five were marked “closed resolved.” However, Hambling further explained that a total of 49 cases were marked “closed unresolved.”

    “This indicates that for 85% of the cases the NRC has no idea who the perpetrators are or what they intended, and has given up on finding them,” Hambling wrote.

    Though only seven drone incidents were reported for 2017, that figure increased three-fold, to 21 SIDs, in 2018.

    Like the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, several locations were visited multiple times by drones, such as the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Cleveland, Ohio, which was the site of six SIDs.

    A total of seven incidents were logged at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, California.

    Another SID, involving a pair of “industrial-sized” drones, occurred at Palo Verde in December 2019, despite the introduction of so-called drone detection technology following the two September 2019 SIDs.

    Despite the mystery drones’ ability to penetrate federal defenses, security personnel have “pointed out that no flyovers have yet exhibited a threat to nuclear power plant,” according to Hambling, citing FOIA-obtained documents.

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    Tags:
    nuclear, drones, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), FAA, nuclear power plant, Drone
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