NRC shuts down Web site

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down its Web site last week to review the information it contained and remove anything that could aid in possible terrorist attacks.

"Basically, the agency is performing a review of the material on there to take a look at what information could be of help to our adversaries," NRC spokeswoman Rosetta Virgilio said. "There are a number of agencies and organizations taking a look at their information that was once considered in our society to be publicly available — that you could get from just about anywhere. But we're rethinking that in light of what happened on 9/11."

NRC is not the only government entity to remove information from its Web site. The Transportation Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have taken similar measures in the past few weeks, but NRC is the only one to take its site completely off-line.

None of the links on www.nrc.gov are active, and visitors see only a message that says: "Our site is not operational at this time. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken the action to shut down its Web site. In support of our mission to protect public health and safety, we are performing a review of all material on our site. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these difficult times."

Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., immediately condemned NRC's decision and called it an "overreaction."

Tyson Slocum, research director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, said it is prudent for agencies to review the sensitive information they post online, but "NRC's decision to remove all information on their Web site is an overreaction that does more harm than good. If nuclear power plants are such dangerous targets, perhaps we should be shutting down the reactors, not the Web site that provides non-objectionable information to the public."

Virgilio said the review is ongoing and continued throughout the past weekend, but there is no timetable for when the site will be back online. "I hope it's soon because we use it, too," she said.

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