Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is reportedly floating legislation that could require Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks for workers at all power plants and critical infrastructure plants with access to restricted areas.

Nuclear power plant workers with unescorted access to facilities must already undergo background checks. A summary of the plan says it would “close this major security loophole that would make it mandatory for all major utilities and critical infrastructure plants to run FBI background checks on employees with access to the most sensitive areas of utilities.”

The senator cited a recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that warned terrorists could be targeting major facilities from the inside. The intelligence report, titled “Insider Threat to Utilities,” cautioned that “violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions,” and that “outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees” for damaging physical and cyber-attacks.

It also said: “Based on the reliable reporting of previous incidents, we have high confidence in our judgment that insiders and their actions pose a significant threat to the infrastructure and information systems of U.S. facilities.”

As DHS spokesman Matt Chandler explained to Homeland Security Newswire: “While DHS has no specific, credible intelligence of an imminent threat posed to the private sector utilities, several recent incidents highlight the on-going threat to infrastructure in the utility sectors from insiders and outsiders seeking facility-specific information that might be exploited in an attack.”

Sources: POWERnews, Sen. Charles Schumer, Homeland Security Newswire