Nuclear power station security defended

By Sarah ChambersTHE Government has defended the arrangements for dealing with a potential terrorist attack or radioactive release at East Anglia's nuclear power station.

By Sarah Chambers

THE Government has defended the arrangements for dealing with a potential terrorist attack or radioactive release at East Anglia's nuclear power station.

The reassurance came after consultant engineer John Large, who has written about off-site emergency plans at nuclear power stations, spoke to Dunwich residents at a meeting last night about the Sizewell plant in Suffolk.

He said nuclear power plants were “primarily designed to defend themselves against accidental events” and claimed their off-site emergency plans were not adequate.

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Speaking before the meeting, he said: “I am going to explain these particular off-site plans in my opinion are inadequate to handle a terrorist attack.

“It's no good as we are at the moment sticking our heads in the sand. They could be a very attractive target to terrorists.”

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Mr Large claimed the Health and Safety Executive allowed the nuclear industry not to specifically plan for a terrorist attack on the grounds such actions were “not reasonably foreseeable”.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry, said nuclear plants, which were regulated by the Office for Civil Nuclear Security, applied “stringent security”.

She added: “Security at nuclear sites is kept under regular review in the light of the prevailing threat and has been significantly enhanced since the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001.

“It is not Government policy to disclose details of these measures which could potentially be of use to terrorists.

“At Sizewell power station, as with all such installations in the UK, there are well tried and tested arrangements for dealing with the consequences of an emergency with off-site consequences.”

The spokeswoman rejected Mr Large's claim that the Health and Safety Executive did not allow the nuclear industry to plan for a terrorist attack.

“The Office for Civil Nuclear Security is the security regulator for the nuclear industry and they ensure that each site has robust plans for any security threat, including terrorism,” she said.

“These plans must be capable of being extended using general contingency plans to deal with a larger, even less likely emergency or event.”

A spokesman for Sizewell B said its owners, British Energy, did not comment on specific security issues at any of its eight nuclear power stations, but it could say security was “multi-layered - involving many different security barriers”.

He added: “Like all civil nuclear facilities in the UK, British Energy's power stations employ detailed security arrangements in conjunction with our security regulator, the Office for Nuclear Security.

“We continue to work closely with the regulator and Suffolk Constabulary and regularly review our security procedures in line with latest Government recommendations.”

Robin Thornton, a spokesman for Sizewell A, said it took their advice from the experts at the Office for Civil Nuclear Security.

He added: “We are certainly not going to go into any discussions whatsoever about the levels of security at Sizewell nuclear power station.”

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