Are These Towers Safe?

Why America's nuclear power plants are still so vulnerable to terrorist attack--and how to make them safer. A special investigation

The first hint of trouble would probably be no more than shadows flitting through the darkness outside one of the nation's nuclear power reactors. Beyond the fencing, black-clad snipers would take aim at sentries atop guard towers ringing the site. The guards tend to doubt they would be safe in their bullet-resistant enclosures. They call such perches iron coffins, which is what they could become if the terrorists used deadly but easily obtainable .50-cal. sniper rifles.

The saboteurs would break through fences by using bolt cutters or Bangalore torpedoes, pipe-shaped explosives developed by the British army in India nearly a century ago....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!