CIVIL NUCLEAR POLICE UNAWARE OF OLDBURY PROTEST
Bristol Evening Post 4th March 2006
The Civil Nuclear Police at Oldbury were unaware of a Greenpeace protest. But, even though they knew Greenpeace was going to carry out a demonstration at the site, police failed to spot members of the group - or the giant letters on the side of the building. Greenpeace activists were able to project the giant "KAPOW" after driving to the plant in a van.
They projected the image for about two minutes in the early hours of the morning. Later the next day a police officer at the site called the Evening Post after 9am and asked for as much information as possible about the protest - when and where it was taking place. We told him it had already happened.
The worker - who identified himself as a member of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, then said: "I would be surprised if it had already happened because we would be aware of it."
But as our photo taken more than four hours earlier proves, the stunt had indeed already taken place.
Greenpeace said the aim of the protest was to highlight the risk of a potential terrorist attack on nuclear power stations.
It said the Oldbury reactor building, which began generating electricity in 1966, was not built to withstand a deliberate crash by a jumbo jet targeted by terrorists.
Sarah North, head of Greenpeace's nuclear campaign, said international terror groups were known to be targeting nuclear sites in the UK.
Ms North said: "Millions of people could die as a result of a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant. "Nuclear power is simply the wrong answer to climate change."
The protesters did not manage to breach the fence around the site and instead set up equipment away from the perimeter fence.
Nathan Argent, one of the activists who took part, said: "We used a high-powered projector to beam the image on to the reactor building. We set up the projector equipment in the back of a van parked about 300 metres from the perimeter fence. It was quite spectacular."
Anna Kingston-Jones, a spokeswoman for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, claimed the van projecting the "KAPOW" message would not have been close enough to be a security threat.
She said: "From where the van was parked the protesters posed no threat to the site at Oldbury. "We have enhanced and reviewed security at all of our power plants in the United Kingdom over the last 12 months.
"Armed officers have been deployed at all nuclear power stations and our security is constantly under review."
She declined to comment on whether Oldbury could or could not withstand a deliberate strike by a jumbo jet.
The Civil Aviation Authority already operates a two-mile wide and 2,000ft high no-fly zone around the Oldbury power station. But if terrorists did hijack a plane and fly it into the power station the results could be a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, the Russian nuclear reactor accident which left a large area uninhabitable and thousands affected by radiation.
The Magnox reactor at Oldbury is one of the oldest still operating in Britain and is due to shut down in two years time, with the loss of more than 400 jobs.
Reactor One is currently generating electricity but the second reactor has been shut down while safety tests are carried out on graphite samples.
As the station nears the end of its life, plans to decommission the site, dismantle the buildings and remove the radioactive material are being drawn up.