The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today a carefully researched and considered analysis of the UK and international nuclear security and concludes that authorities may be underestimating the scale of the threat to nuclear facilities and transports. It calls for urgent consideration by government, nuclear regulators and the nuclear industry to some of the concerns that emerge from the report.
The report (1) has been developed for the NFLA by Dr David Lowry, former Director of the European Proliferation Information Centre in London and a senior research fellow with the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, USA; in conjunction with the NFLA Secretary.
This briefing focuses on a selection of key and emerging nuclear security threats in the nuclear sector, including:
- the risks to a nuclear site from an „insider‟ attack;
- the risks from the loss of sensitive information on nuclear facilities;
- the risks from a „cyber attack‟ and attacks on information security at a nuclear site;
- the risks and potential damage from an aircraft attack;
- the risks from a malicious attack on a nuclear material transport;
- the risks from a „drone‟ type device on a nuclear site.
Amongst some of the comments made in the report are:
- In terms of insider threats, the key point is ‘don’t assume’. Assess, test, and always look to find and fix any vulnerabilities that are found.
- The recent revelations that the terrorist grouping behind attacks in France and Belgium was looking at nuclear facilities and following nuclear workers is of real concern. The fact that both Belgium and the Netherlands have decided to offer iodine tablets to their entire populations. NFLA argue the UK Government should consider following such an action.
- There are real concerns of malicious cyber-attacks across the nuclear sector and, in the example of the „Stuxnet‟ virus, suggest considerable damage could be done if successful.
- New threats from the likes of drones and missile technology need to be countered by government developing a hierarchy of countermeasures of regulation, passive and active instruments to provide a layered defence.
- There are concerns of “gaps and fissures” in the patchwork of domestic regulations and international agreements designed to protect nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.
- There remain no global standards for physical protection at civil nuclear facilities.
- There is a contradiction in UK policy between, on the one hand seeking to expand and export nuclear power programmes and, on the other, maintaining nuclear security by controlling the movement of nuclear materials and know-how.
- NFLA call on a review of nuclear transport guidelines in relation to the structural integrity of transport containers.
- NFLA urges real discussion between the Government, local authorities and emergency services on how all agencies would need to plan for the aftermath of a nuclear security incident.
NFLA will send this report to the UK Government, local authorities, the emergency services, nuclear regulatory agencies and the wider nuclear sector for comment and discussion.
Report co-author David Lowry said:
Nuclear insecurity is the great elephant in the room where nuclear futures are being debated. Pro- nuclear politicians – national and local – are both ignorant about the details set out in this analysis and thus overlook the consequences. This is a very dangerous state of affairs that require urgent rectification. They should start by reading this timely briefing.”
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
This is an excellent, well researched report by David Lowry and the NFLA Secretariat and certainly indicates real cause for concern, particularly from aerial attacks, cyber threats and the potential hazards relating to the transport of nuclear materials, especially nuclear waste. This obviously has an impact on emergency planning measures and highlights to me the need for enhanced local authority involvement with government, the emergency services and the nuclear sector to deal more flexibly with threats to nuclear security.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 07771 930196.
Notes for Editors
(1) The report is attached with this briefing. It can be downloaded from the NFLA website http://www.nuclearpolicy.info.