Nuclear Security Is 'Under Review'

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), November 3, 2001 | Go to article overview

Nuclear Security Is 'Under Review'


A REVIEW of security measures at all Britain's nuclear power plants is being carried out following warnings from experts that suicide hijackers could cause a Chernobylstyle disaster.

According to one expert, a passenger jet flown into Sellafield would create a fireball two kilometres high, releasing some of its 70 tonnes of plutonium into the air.

Just one kilogram of plutonium could contaminate an area of 650 square kilometres, said Dr Frank Barnaby, a nuclear physicist from the Oxford Research Group.

"We are talking about massive areas, " he said. "If it happened and I was a hundred miles away, I wouldn't hang around, I would leave."

Sellafield also has 21 steel and concrete tanks containing high level radioactive liquid waste which he said were vulnerable.

British Nuclear Fuels, which operates the Sellafield reprocessing plant says it is resistant to aircraft impact.

But Dr Barnaby said: "The kinetic energy of a big aircraft like a Boeing 747 would demolish almost any structure you can think of, as shown by the World Trade Centre.

"Having demolished the structure and having got inside, you then have the fuel. A 747 flown from Heathrow or Manchester would have 150 tonnes of aviation fuel and that would destroy an incredible amount of stuff and would cause radioactivity to spread around.

"When the aircraft goes in, there would be a great fireball and the material from that would reach an altitude of about two kilometres. …

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