Saturday, March 19, 2005

Nuclear Power Plants Make Lovely Targets

In early 2005 Wired Magazine published an article supporting more nuclear power plants in the U.S. In response, I wrote a letter to the editor, which they published. It even made the 'headline' of the Rants + Raves section, which read "The biggest problem: nuclear plants make lovely targets." Here's the text of the letter as published by Wired:

"Nuclear Now!" included the usual hand waves to gloss of critical problems like wate disposal and major accidents. However, it ignored the biggest problem: Nuclear plants make lovely targets. Nineteen guys with Kalishnikovs could easily take over an nuke plant. Nineteen guys with box cutters might even have a chance at flying airliners into a couple. In either case, a sizable portion of the US becomes uninhabitable for decades.

Some time ago an idiot fired an antitank missile at a French nuclear reactor. Fortunately, the guy didn't do his homework and it did little damage. Unfortunately, al Qaeda does its homework.


Note: Wired left out some detail (they edit for brevity).

Once a nuclear power plant is in the control of terrorist, it can easily be turned into a very effective dirty bomb, so long as the terrorists are on a suicide mission. There seems to be no shortage of suicide bombers in the Mid-East these days.

Flying an airliner into the containment vessel might cause serious problems. Flying an airliner into the pool used to store old fuel rods would be a disaster of major proportions. Osama bin Laden is an engineer. He knows this.

The antitank missile did little damage because it was designed to penetrate metal armour. The nuke containment building was made of concrete.

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