Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: South African Nuke Plant Attacked

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    Friday, November 09, 2007

    South African Nuke Plant Attacked

    By Noah Shachtman EmailNovember 09, 2007 | 4:17:35 PMCategories: Nukes

    Nuclear_energy Four gunmen attacked South Africa's main nuclear research center, leaving a senior emergency officer seriously injured, Pretoria News reports.

    Anton Gerber... was shot in the chest when the gunmen stormed the facility's emergency response control room in the early hours of Thursday morning... He was sitting in the control room with his fiancée Ria Meiring when he heard a loud bang.

    Meiring, who was working nightshift, is the supervisor of the control room. Gerber said he kept Meiring company. "I do not like it when she is at work at night and I go with her to keep her company and ensure that she is safe," he said.

    Describing the attack Gerber said they were inside the electronically sealed control room when they heard a loud bang. They then spotted the gunmen coming into the facility's eastern block.

    It is believed that the attackers gained access to the building by using a ladder from Pelindaba's fire brigade and scaling a wall...

    The Pelindaba nuclear facility is regarded as one of the country's most secure national key points. It is surrounded by electric fencing, has 24-hour CCTV surveillance, security guards and security controls and checkpoints...

    "The facility is meant to be safe... These things are not meant to happen," Gerber said.

    Homeland Security Watch
    asks the obvious question: Could something like this happen here in the America?

    A Congressional Research Service study in 2005 entitled “Nuclear Power Plants: Vulnerability to Terrorist Attack,” argues that despite the heightened security measures imposed on nuclear facilities in the U.S. by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, industry has been slow to implement them.

    The NRC explains its position on protecting nuclear facilities here with its three phase plan that was to be completed by now. I do not know where this effort stands.

    In the past, security measures known as “buffers” or “layers” were considered the best way to restrict unauthorized access to such crucial infrastructure as a nuclear power plant’s control panel. Earlier this month, a man was discovered to be bringing a pipe bomb into a nuclear plant in Arizona – the largest one in the country in fact. If the perpetrators of the break-in at Pelindaba had been armed with such a bomb, it is doubtful that any existing buffers would have stopped a terrible outcome.


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