Keys to atom plant stolen from vehicle

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Keys and documents from one of Britain's most famous nuclear and chemical research facilities have been stolen.

Keys and documents from one of Britain's most famous nuclear and chemical research facilities have been stolen.

Locks have been changed at the Harwell atomic energy plant in Oxfordshire after the theft of a briefcase from a member of the emergency response team. The case contained plans for evacuation, and keys for the control room used to oversee emergencies.

A shortwave radio and a mobile phone were also stolen from the Harwell official's car while it was parked at Reading railway station on 23 March.

Last year, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency warned that terrorist groups could be targeting nuclear facilities. It said that even tiny amounts of radioactive material could be attached to a high-explosive device to create a "dirty bomb" that could contaminate a city.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority played down the significance of the theft, saying it would not compromise the plant's security. A spokesman said: "They were keys to the emergency control room, they were not keys to the nuclear facilities. We have changed the locks as a precaution."

Harwell's nuclear reactors are being decommissioned and the site is being converted into a centre for science and technology. There is still some nuclear material and nuclear waste at the site.