Fog grenades to protect nuclear power plant: German plan

19th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Regional German authorities said Monday that they have given the green light to a novel scheme to protect a nuclear power station from attack: fog grenades.

Under plans approved by the environment ministry in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Philippsburg power station could be shrouded in thick mist in 40 seconds if an aircraft was hijacked in the area.

A spokeswoman for the ministry said that a pilot scheme, which sees the fog grenades fired from special launchers set up around the reactor, was running "decently" at another nuclear power station.

A recent ruling by Germany's top court that hijacked aircraft could not be shot down also gave some impetus to the scheme, the spokeswoman added.

The plans have been criticised, however, as being insufficient since a plane's navigation system could easily direct a pilot to the power station without the need to see it with the naked eye.

Germany decided in 2000 to mothball its 17 nuclear power stations by 2020, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's new coalition government wants to extend the life of some reactors, which produce around 30 percent of the country's power.

Nuclear power is however unpopular among a public worried about safety risks and the lack of a permanent storage site for radioactive waste.

© 2010 AFP

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