A major reason for opposing a nuclear renaissance is that it may considerably increase the risk of
nuclear proliferation and, perhaps more importantly these days, nuclear terrorism. There are number
of nuclear terrorist activities that a terrorist group may become involved in.
Potential acts of nuclear terrorism
â€¢ Stealing or otherwise acquiring fissile material and fabricating a primitive nuclear explosive.
â€¢ Attacking a nuclear power reactor or waste-fuel cooling pond.
â€¢ Attacking tanks at Sellafield holding high-level radioactive liquid waste.
â€¢ Attacking a plutonium store at Sellafield or other locations in the UK.
â€¢ Attacking nuclear fuel (particularly MOX fuel) or waste containers in transit.
â€¢ Making and detonating a radiological weapon, commonly called a dirty bomb, to spread
All of these types of nuclear terrorism have the potential to cause large, or quite large, numbers of
deaths. And the risk of all of them will increase if more nuclear power stations are built. Of particular
concern is the danger that terrorists will illegally acquire plutonium and use it to fabricate a primitive
nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb.
It must be emphasised that terrorists would be satisfied with a nuclear explosive device that is far less
sophisticated than the types of nuclear weapons demanded by the military. Whereas the military
demand nuclear weapons with predictable explosive yields and very high reliability, most terrorists
would be satisfied with a relatively primitive nuclear explossive that is much easier to fabricate
[quote]ATTACKS ON NUCLEAR FACILITIES
Many nuclear facilities in the UK are
vulnerable to terrorist attack. A terrorist group
with significant resources could attack and
damage nuclear power plants. For example
terrorists could target a reactor or spent fuel
pond by using a truck carrying high explosives
and exploding it near a critical part of the target;
exploding high explosives carried in a light
aircraft near a critical part of the target; crashing
a hijacked commercial airliner into the
reactor building or spent-fuel pond; attacking
the power station with small arms, artillery or
missiles and occupying it; or by attacking the
power lines carrying electricity into the plant.
The terrorists would aim to create a criticality
or loss of coolant accident, or both, leading to a
massive release of radioactivity from the reactor
core or the spent fuel elements.
The damage caused by and the number of
people killed by a successful terrorist attack
on a nuclear-power plant could be so
catastrophic that even a small risk of such an
attack is not acceptable. However, it is hard
to think of a nuclear terrorist attack which
could, at least in theory, be more catastrophic
than a successful attack on either the tanks
at Sellafield that contain the liquid fission
products separated from spent reactor fuel
elements by the two reprocessing plants or on
the stores holding the plutonium separated by
the reprocessing plants.
A smoke plume from an explosion at
Sellafield that released either around 17%
of the high level waste (Cs -137) in tanks or
less than 1% of the plutonium (~ 0.2 tonnes)
stored at Sellafield would be approximately
ten times as devastating as Chernobyl and
require evacuation of an area which could
include Newcastle or Manchester,
depending on the wind direction.1 The
potential danger is increased by there
being more than tenlocations around
the country where over two tonnes
plutonium is stored.
The industryâ€™s insistence that their reactors
and storage facilities are â€œrobustâ€