Drones: The Threat to Nuclear Plants
Unexplained drone flights over french nuclear reactors have more than the french concerned. While they have no idea what the drones were doing and no real way to prevent them from continuing, the drone flights have highlighted- again- the vulnerability of spent fuel pools. In addition, the drone flights remind us that technology has left the nuclear industry far behind. Not only drones pose a menace, computer systems have advanced incredibly outside nuclear reactor and weapons sites but the sites themselves often have old technology manned (or unmanned) by bored personal unprepared for cyber attacks and lacking the acuity and mental preparedness to interpret and react appropriately to prevent accidental missile launches.
Carolyn Babylon / Newsweek 27 December, 2014
From small commercial drones for express parcel delivery to military ones used to attack terrorist suspects, the past year has seen a proliferation in the use of all types of unmanned aerial vehicles. Yet the prospect of increasing numbers of drones filling the skies poses abundant security concerns for critical infrastructure—including for the nuclear industry.
Just last week, news media reported that in July a drone came within six yards of a plane landing at Heathrow airport in London. Last month, French authorities revealed that unidentified drones had breached restricted airspace over 13 of France’s 19 nuclear power plants between early October and late November. The drones are believed to have been sophisticated civilian devices costing several thousands of pounds, and the intrusions were seemingly coordinated and generally occurred at night.
Given that the majority of security measures at nuclear power plants were conceived before the advent of drone technology, the flights over French facilities have exposed nuclear plants’ lack of adequate defenses against drones. This has left the French government—while outwardly reassuring the public that it has put in place ‘all means necessary to protect nuclear installations’—scrambling to find adequate solutions…
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