Keywords: insider knowledge, nuclear security, nuclear sabotage, saboteurs, VISAC, nuclear power plants, nuclear energy, nuclear safety, radioactive release
Sabotage vulnerability of nuclear power plants
There have been many recent studies of nuclear security focusing on terrorist assault, but this paper discusses methods equal in catastrophic potential: sabotage by individuals with a detailed knowledge of security procedures, plant layout and the functional nature of the critical components of a nuclear power plant. The paper looks only at sabotage without explosives or using very small amounts (2 to 5 kg) of explosives deployed as shaped charges to maximise their effect. We speculate on how explosives might be brought into secure areas and that, regardless of post-9/11 increases in security and use of metal and explosive detection equipment, banned items continue to appear in secured areas of airports. Using the VISAC computer code (VISAC, 2003), we analyse sabotage (with or without explosive charges) that produces a high probability of large radiological release. Similarly, facility kills, with extended downtime, can be obtained through the selection of the critical component to attack.