Security shock at nuclear plant

SECURITY around nuclear power stations at Sizewell is fatally flawed, the Evening Star can reveal today.The Evening Star flew through the one-and-half mile air exclusion zone around the Leiston in an aircraft loaded with what could have been high explosive and swooped within a whisker of Sizewell's vast power-generating nuclear machine.

SECURITY around nuclear power stations at Sizewell is fatally flawed, the Evening Star can reveal today.

The Evening Star flew through the one-and-half mile air exclusion zone around the Leiston in an aircraft loaded with what could have been high explosive and swooped within a whisker of Sizewell's vast power-generating nuclear machine.

At 750ft we were within 10 seconds of delivering a devastating blow.

No questions were asked when, posing as an aerial photographer, we hired a light aircraft from an East Anglian airport to fly over some of the region's famous landmarks.

We could have been a terrorist. We could have smuggled a bag full of explosives on board.

A bag carried by Star photographer Richard Snasdell was big enough to contain seven kilos of the high explosive, Semtex.

Most Read

We demonstrated this with bags of sugar – the fact that it was a harmless substance is irrelevant.

Who was to know it wasn't a lethal cargo of the high-explosive Semtex? Absolutely no checks were carried out.

The deadly cargo could have delivered a killer punch to the high-profile target.

Just 250g of Semtex, the terrorist's stock-in-trade, was enough to wreak havoc over Lockerbie.

A security expert currently serving in Northern Ireland told the Star that a bomb of this size could make "one heck of a mess" even though he was confident the inner workings of the power station would withstand the blast.

If flown into Sizewell A or Sizewell B by a suicide bomber, the damage and possible after-effects cannot be gauged.

But it would certainly cause mass destruction, possible death – and leave Suffolk's 674,000 population living in fear.

Concerns over the radiation that may leak out of such a blast would cause widespread panic across communities in the entire region.

Our light aircraft flew up the coast over Thorpeness, Orford castle and the Port of Felixstowe. But by far the most prominent landmarks were the two Sizewell power stations.

"I didn't have to give any identification and the booking was made by telephone," said Star photographer Richard Snasdell. "Again no checks."

"I didn't ask specifically to fly over it. We had booked a flight to photograph coastal landmarks.

"There was no specific warnings or any indication of what we were doing was wrong."

The Star revelations back up the damning conclusions earlier this week of MPs who said the country was ill-prepared to deal with terrorist attack of September 11 proportions.

Members of the defence select committee slammed government preparations for civil emergency, despite heightened security in the immediate wake of the Al Qaida attacks on they World Trade Centre in New York last year.

In November, the government planned to call up around 6,000 reservists – part-time service personnel such as the Territorial Army – to guard high importance installations such as nuclear power stations.

Air defence units were put on high alert to guard against possible terrorist attack on Britain's 20 nuclear reactor sites in the autumn last year. France has even deployed anti-aircraft missile batteries to protect nuclear power stations.

But yesterday this kind of 'ring of steel' was nowhere in sight.

Local MP John Gummer was shocked to hear about our flight, and said he would be contacting the Department of Trade and Industry straight away to hear what they had to say about security there.

"This is a matter of great concern to everyone in the constituency," he said.

Shadow cabinet member and South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo praised The Evening Star for highlighting security concerns at Sizewell power stations.

"What you have done shows up security problems and should prompt a review of security at Sizewell. It is very valuable for that," he said.

"In the light of September 11 there was widespread concern about security – but we need to maintain our vigilance.

"However there has to be a balance struck – and there is a belief among terrorists that it is only an attack on the American mainland which will make the American people sit up and take notice," Mr Yeo said.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said that in a free society people needed to accept that total security was not possible.

"That is in essence what the prime minister was saying earlier this week – you can never be totally secure in a free society.

"If there is a total exclusion zone around the power station, how would it be enforced and policed?" he said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter