Success Story: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)


Success Story: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 

Zebra Card Printer solutions and Data Management Expiring Badges used to improve Nuclear Plant security

In response to the increased potential of terrorist attacks against key infrastructure facilities, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has raised security standards for nuclear power plants. Zebra Card Printer Solutions has been used to create a custom ID verification application to help a major power provider meet the NRC's new security requirements, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. On the visitor management side, Data Management Expiring badges have been used to increase tracking and security of visitors walking around the facilities. 

The Challenge

The U.S. nuclear energy industry is serious about safety. They erect nuclear power plants to very high safety standards, with complex safety features and redundant critical functions. For fifty years these steps have kept the possibility of a catastrophic reactor accident from becoming a reality.

However, the potential to deliberately create a catastrophe makes nuclear power plants attractive targets for terrorist attack or sabotage.

It is with this potential threat in mind that the NRC now requires all nuclear power plant security programs to include access authorization or ID verification measures and increased security of the visitor management system. These measures must control access to the plant, monitor movement within the facility, and prevent unauthorized, undesirable, and unsafe intruders from penetrating areas where special nuclear material or key equipment are located.

When one of Zebra's ID Partners took on the task of helping a major nuclear power facility comply with the latest NRC regulations, they quickly saw that their client's legacy ID cards were going to be a problem. The cards lacked bar-coding, which hampered rapid ID verification. And their laminated coating was easy to peel off--an open invitation to tampering.

"The specific requirements of the application along with the critical timetable for implementation complicated the solution. NRC audit constraints dictated a wireless infrastructure for real-time verification along with a credential that was essentially tamper-proof," explained the Account Manager for the project.

On the visitor management side, Image Sales was contacted by NRC to help them with a more secure visitor management system: expiring badges.

The Solution

Zebra's partner's solution to the client's ID verification issues was to create a custom application that would provide real-time verification of ID credentials and access authorization using wireless portable data terminals and Zebra card printers. The enhanced features of Zebra printers enabled the issuance of highly secure ID badges that serve both as employee identification and access verification. While the current system utilizes barcode technology to verify each distinctive credential, it is designed to accommodate migration to new ID cards armed with UHF RFID technology. UHF RFID credentials enhance ID verification by leveraging time and distance as factors in data recognition and retrieval.

Expired Visitor Pass


On the visitor management side, Image Sales started suppling direct thermal full expiration badges. The badges are issued through the visitor management software in place, keeping an eletronic log of the visitors. The badge is issued and applied to a clip-on card back with a red header that says "Visitor". Overnight, the badge becomes expired through an ink bleeding process (see picture). The red header helps security to identify visitors from far away. The bleeding process makes it impossible for a visitor to re-use their previously issued badge.




The Zebra's Partner involved in the process has deployed the new system and trained the security staff in its use faster than anticipated, with minimal disruption of daily plant and security operations. Within a few weeks of installation, the security staff issued tamper-proof, personalized Zebra card-printed badges to the plant's entire population--some 2,500 employees, contractors, and vendors.

Today, anyone seeking entry to the client's facility must first present their ID badge, printed and encoded by a Zebra Card Printer, to a security guard. Utilizing a wireless portable data terminal, the guard then scans the card and receives instant confirmation of identity through the custom application developed by the vendor. Image Sales is now also supplying expiring badges for Contractors and Vendors. 

Given how the new control system helps plant security quickly identify and react to potential threats, it should come as no surprise that the client passed its subsequent NRC compliance audit.

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