x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Focus turns to protecting nuclear plants

Now that the UAE has hired a South Korean consortium to build four nuclear power plants, attention has turned to protecting them from potential terror attacks.

ABU DHABI // Now that the UAE has hired a South Korean consortium to build four nuclear power plants, attention has turned to protecting them from potential terror attacks. A set of general guidelines were outlined yesterday by a senior American nuclear expert who spoke on the final day of the Crisis and Emergency Management conference. Dr Frank Congel, a former official at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a veteran of the US nuclear programme, said the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US pointed up the lack of a "comprehensive infrastructure" for dealing with threats to power plants.

He emphasised the need for greater manpower. It was important to maintain a large law enforcement presence to deter militants, he said, as well as technical staff to deal with possible breaches that could cause a radiation leak. Equipment providing radiation protection for staff is also needed, he said. Dr Congel said on-site officers needed to co-ordinate their responses to avoid conflict between technical and security teams, which often have different priorities in the face of an attack. In December, the UAE signed a deal worth $20 billion (Dh73.5bn) to have the power plants built by 2020.

kshaheen@thenational.ae hdajani@thenational.ae