Security Fears Raised at Nuclear Plants: Drone Threat

January 17, 2018



Fears over the security of Brazil’s two nuclear power plants have been raised after a heavily armed gang raided a secure workers’ condominium just a kilometre away and blew up two cash machines.

About 10 men held security guards hostage at around 3am on Monday, robbed guests at a party in a private club then escaped in a waiting speedboat from the Praia Brava condominium for workers at the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear reactors, run by state company Eletronuclear.

It was the second incident in a month: on 9 December, thieves exploded an ATM in the Mambucaba Condominium, another security-controlled workers’ village 15km away from the plants, near Angra dos Reis on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline.

Dr Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, said that the use of “explosives and modern weaponry close to any nuclear plant” was a cause for worry, even if the explosion would not have caused direct damage to reactors.

“There are grave and increasing concerns about risk of attack to a nuclear plant across the world,” he said.


Daily Mail:

Vladimir Putin is poised to create a special force to protect against terrorist drone strikes on key nuclear power stations, following attacks on Russian bases in Syria.

The move – involving the development of technology to reliably zap drones – comes amid fears that terrorists could use sophisticated long-distance weapons to target nuclear bases.

Russian concerns have been heightened by jihadist attacks on its military bases in Syria using UAVs – unmanned aerial vehicles.


The Kremlin has demanded that the Defence Ministry, several secret service agencies and the Russian National Guard work together to find a solution to destroy drones before they reach their targets.

Technology to zap drones has been developed in Russia but needs testing, said Col-General Sergey Melikov, first deputy director of the national guard.

He made clear nuclear power plants were among the state facilities that required protection.

Recent pictures of captured Jihadist drones in Syria were released.

This week Russian forces came under attack from ‘assault drones’ at its Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval base in Syria, said the defence ministry.

‘Air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases,’ said a statement.

‘Ten assault drones were approaching the Khmeimim air base, and another three …at Tartus.

‘Six small-size air targets were intercepted and taken under control by the Russian EW units.

‘Three of them were landed on the controlled area outside the base, and another three UAVs exploded as they touched the ground.

‘Seven UAVs were eliminated by the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile complexes operated by the Russian air defence units on 24-hours alert.


“You don’t need massive amounts of force to allow a nuclear plant to go into instability. The plant has enough energy to destroy itself. Drones can be used to tickle the plant into instability.”

With devastating simplicity, John Large explains how drones could be used to coordinate a terror attack on a nuclear power station. First, one drone hits the distribution grid serving the plant, depriving the facility of off-site power, making it dependent on its diesel generators to cool the reactor, which generates up to 1,000 megawatts of power – enough to light up half of Paris. Then the generators are easily taken out by an unmanned drone with a relatively small payload. Without power to cool the radioactive fuel, Large estimates it would take approximately 30 seconds before the fuel begins to melt, leading to potential leakages of nuclear waste.

It’s the same cause behind the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after it was hit by a tsunami in March 2011. But potential terrorists wouldn’t need to trigger an earthquake, just be able to accurately pilot a pair of readily-available commercial drones carrying small payloads of explosive. Last year, unmanned drones were spotted flying over at least 13 nuclear power stations in France. The last widely-reported sighting was on 3 January, when two aircraft were seen flying over a nuclear facility in Nogent-sur-Seine, in northern-central France.



8 Responses to “Security Fears Raised at Nuclear Plants: Drone Threat”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “Whenever science makes a discovery, the devil grabs it while the angels are debating the best way to use it.”
    ―Alan Valentine

    So be it dirst with airplanes and now with drones—-the devil has turned a toy into weapon of war. These look like they were meant to scatter the little bomblets in a “carpet-bombing” way—-they are quite small and would likely be effective only against personnel. It wouldn’t be too much trouble to ramp things up and make an attack on a nuclear power plant a la the Newsweek scenario. (Or on any power substation, refinery, chemical plant, or other “critical” infrastructure). In fact, it would be so easy that it may be an indicator of how little real “terrorist” activity we have going on that no one has done it yet.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You ARE the “daily fail” here, Chucky. Why don’t you stop stalking me and stick to something you display some small talent for—-like providing some good climate related links?

    • redskylite Says:

      According to the Scientists at Climate FeedBack we should be getting our climate news from The New York Times or Washington Post – a lot of the ones that they class as “neutral” are sometimes vert interesting however. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail gets a low score. Daily Express is not scored, I suspect it is even worse. A pity they did not make place for the Guardian either,
      maybe not shared much on social media (that’s a great pity).

      Many stories were written about climate science in 2017, but were the ones that “went viral” scientifically accurate? To find out, we compiled a list of articles with the most comments, shares, and likes on social networks using data from Buzzsumo*. From that list, we selected the articles containing verifiable assertions on the topic of climate science (we searched for articles containing “climate change” or “global warming”, leaving aside stories about politics, or stories about natural disasters with no substantial discussion of climate change).
      We then asked scientists with relevant expertise to provide a brief assessment of their scientific credibility.

  2. This was in Brazil

    Some relevant information re the state of affairs in Brazil from Umbrios on RS
    Thanks for this one, Wili. I´m in Brasil and I hadn´t heard anything about this. As I searched for more info, it seems that only one of the major newspapers in Brasil noticed this, and only as a small article hiding near the obituary. And it should have been front page news, for the gravity and danger.
    Rio de Janeiro right now is very near governmental collapse, with all living ex-governors and ex-heads of the legislative house in jail because of corruption, government employees and retirees missing their wages (some for more than six months), and rises in homelessness and criminality. The government there is surviving (badly) with federal aid, and that´s just from political incompetence, without much aid of climatological problems. How bad things will be when the full impact of climate change hits, it´s better not to try imagining.

  3. In the 1960´s and 1970´s almost all of the Amazon was terra devoluta. The military dictatorship that governed Brasil at the time was paranoid that the Amazon would be invaded by the US, and for some reason they believed that if there were more people living on it, that would stop an invasion (don´t ask me to explain that reasoning, as I can´t).

    So they started the “Brasil Grande” program, with its genocide of indigenous population and distribution of free land to whoever wanted to move from the southern states to the Amazon.
    It worked scaringly well… when I was in Nova Mamoré in Rondônia, I spent 90 days in the place and I didn´t met a single person that was born in Rondônia. I saw a small baby and I asked the mother were he had been born… and even that child had been born in the USA, not in Rondônia. Most people were from Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and São Paulo.

    The free distribution of land came with a caveat: the land needed to be “civilized”. No jungle, but crops. Or pecuary (but not native species, cows, or if the cows croaked too easily in the hot damp places, buffalo). A person would own what area it razed. That built a dangerous culture.

    While most of that kind land grabbing is illegal nowdays, every five years or so there´s an anisty that legitimizes land grabbed that way, and lot of very rich latifundiaries started their fortunes with this kind of deforestation.

    It begans with settling in a non- white people povoated (indigenous people don´t count >__< ).

    In a few cases, mineral resources are found in the land, and then the "grileiro" (the one commanding all this operation) has hit proverbial, and sometimes literal, gold.

    The one thing that drives this cycle the most, though, is how easy it is to steal land this way (not only in the Amazon) in Brasil. Free land is incredible lucrative.

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