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[cdn-nucl-l] No-fly zones over Canadian nuclear facilities unlikely
Posted in the Toronto Star on December 20, 2001 and at:
Much to Tom Adams' dismay... :)
No-fly zones over nuclear facilities unlikely
OTTAWA (CP) — Canada is unlikely to impose no-fly zones over its nuclear
reactors or station missiles around them, a senior nuclear regulatory
In the event of a credible threat to the reactors, Norad would likely be
called on to protect them with jet fighters, said Jim Blythe, manager of
security review project at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
There's also an ongoing study of engineering and procedural improvements to
make the reactors less vulnerable to attack, Blythe said in an interview
Washington imposed no-fly zones over U.S. reactors after Sept. 11 and France
installed missile units around some of its nuclear facilities, fuelling
speculation about similar measures in Canada.
But the feeling is that it wouldn't be feasible to impose no-fly zones in
Canada, said Blythe.
"That you could, say, draw an arc around Pickering of a certain diameter and
a certain height and say commercial and private aircraft shall never fly in
these zones — from a navigational perspective, that would be exceedingly
Enforcement would be equally problematic.
"The Canadian Armed Forces doesn't have the resources, the personnel or
materiel to have, say, F-18s in the area on a continuous basis."
It's also hard to justify the use of missiles that automatically shoot down
any aircraft violating a defined space, Blythe said.
"That instantaneous, irreversible application of deadly force is not
something that, in the absence of dire circumstances, I think . . . is
acceptable in this society."
He denied that U.S. measures are tougher, saying the no-fly zones there are
temporary and not vigorously enforced. Planes that violate the zones are
simply warned or fined, he said.
As for France, anti-aircraft units have not been installed at reactors, only
at fuel reprocessing facilities where the potential for radioactive release
is much greater, he said. Candu reactors don't require such facilities.
The commission is continuing to work with intelligence agencies, police and
Transport Canada to ensure that appropriate measures, such as jet patrols,
can be invoked quickly in case of a credible threat.
The study of how to make the facilities less vulnerable to air attack could
come down to straightforward measures such as reinforcing protective walls.
Nuclear plant operators have already taken extra security measures against
the risk of ground attack, such as stationing armed guards on site.
Canada has 22 nuclear power reactors, a few research reactors, and some
4,000 facilities that use radioactive materials in military or industrial