The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looking into allegations of “computer intrusion” by a former employee at the Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings (EFH), the parent company of Luminant which operates Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant in Somervell County.
The original report was first posted on wired.com May 29. Allegedly, the employee, in charge of programming the models that control the management of EFH generating plants (to include Comanche Peak) was fired in March, citing performance-related issues.
Although the employee was escorted off the premises, his computer access was not modified and someone used that employee’s account to tamper with files in the corporate network later that day.
Among the allegations is that the employee sent an e-mail to an operations engineering group at Comanche Peak to query about the safety of the reactor and capacity issues.
EFH spokeswoman Lisa Singleton confirmed in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report that the employee was fired on March 3 but did not comment further citing the FBI investigation.
Luminant Manager of Corporate Communications Laura Starnes spoke briefly to the E-T about the incident.
“As this is an ongoing FBI investigation, we have to refrain from sharing any specifics on the case,” Starnes said. “We are confident, however, that the former employee had no operational control and the safe operations of the system were never compromised.”
When queried about safety protocol at the plant, Starnes declined to comment on specifics, but said Comanche Peak participates in regular Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety training exercises.
“While we cannot provide specifics on our security procedures for safety reasons, we are strongly committed to continuing to operate a secure nuclear plant,” Starnes said. “These training exercises/inspections are performance-based and are the primary means to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of plant security programs as required by NRC regulations.”
Starnes said the exercises assess a nuclear plant’s physical protection measures to defend against possible threats. These exercises include adversaries against whom plant owners must design physical protection systems and response strategies.
“These two-week long exercises include a wide array of federal, state and local law enforcement and emergency planning officials in addition to plant operators and NRC personnel,” Starnes said.
The NRC periodically assesses the adequacy of the types of threats and makes revisions as necessary.
For more information about the NRC’s security inspection program, visit www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/force-on-force-fs.html.
Repeated attempts to reach the investigating Dallas FBI agent for comment were unsuccessful at press time.