THE police force charged with guarding UK nuclear power plants has admitted to a substantial increase in the number of breaches of security last year. There were 21 separate incidents involving stolen or lost smart phones and identity cards, up from 13 the previous year. In one case a Blackberry was taken in a “domestic burglary”, and in another a SIM card was “accidently thrown in disposal chute at home address.” Emails containing sensitive information, including an armoury access code and personal data, were sent in breach of security protocols. “Terrorists must be delighted with this catalogue of cock-ups,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. “It seems you just have to follow some nuclear police around for a while and they’ll drop their pass in a car park, leave a work phone on the train or accidentally send secret info through Google mail. It would be laughable if it wasn’t about the safety of some of the most dangerous sites in the UK.” The revelations uncovered by the Sunday Herald have been condemned as well as prompting alarm from campaigners and politicians. They point out that there have recently been concerns about Chinese state companies stealing nuclear industry secrets. One of the reasons why the Prime Minister Theresa May is thought to have delayed a decision last month on a long-planned £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is the 33 per cent stake by the China General Nuclear Power Company. The company has been charged with nuclear espionage by the US government. “We would need to rely even more heavily on the proper functioning of the nuclear police if we invite the world’s biggest nation’s industrial spies inside the fence.” Dr David Lowry, a senior research fellow at the US Institute for Resource and Security Studies, also highlighted security concerns about Chinese involvement. “It sets alarm bells ringing that so many security failures could have happened at a time when there are plans to expand the UK nuclear industry,” he said. Lowry pointed out that the government watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, had stated in its 2015-16 annual report that there were areas where security arrangements at nuclear plants “did not fully meet regulatory expectations”. The security breaches were “troubling”, according to the SNP’s energy spokesperson, Callum McCaig MP. “We need to be sure that security is the paramount concern – and that there is no room for any more breaches or mix-ups,” he said. Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, contended that nuclear power had unique safety and security challenges. “Whether we entrust our nuclear secrets to the French or the Chinese, or anyone else, there will always be the potential for losses, theft, error and accident,” he said. The CNC, however, stressed that security breaches were dealt with “swiftly and robustly” and that they were “low risk”. Missing smart phones and warrant cards were immediately deactivated, and officers were given “advice and guidance” by supervisors.
Sunday Herald 28th August 2016 read more »
Nuclear security: Government pouring millions into steeling power plants from potential terror attacks. While forces around the country have seen their budgets slashed under the Tories, funding for the nuclear authority has risen by 55 per cent since 2010. The drive to steel Britain’s nuclear facilities against future attack has seen spending soar to the point that it has almost tripled since the 7/7 bombings, over a period when other forces faced deep cuts. Earlier this year the Office for Nuclear Regulation which holds sway over security warned of the growing threat of attack on Britain’s operational reactors. It also emerged that the terror cell responsible for the recent Paris and Brussels attacks were thought to be planning a strike on a nuclear power station. Nuclear security is especially under the spotlight now that the Government is deciding whether to sign a deal that would see the Chinese government heavily invested in the UK’s planned power station at Hinkley Point.
Independent 27th Aug 2016 read more »
More than £74 million of public money is spent every year to guard Trident warheads and nuclear submarines on the Clyde and across the UK, the Sunday Herald can reveal. Nearly half the total budget for the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) goes on armed police protecting the nuclear bases at Faslane and Coulport near Helensburgh, bomb factories in Berkshire and the nuclear convoys that shuttle between them. The spending has been attacked by politicians and campaigners as a hidden cost of maintaining Trident weapons of mass destruction. If Trident were scrapped, the money could be better spent on public services, such as improved policing, they say.
Herald 28th Aug 2016 read more »