Britain rehearses for terror jet crash

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The Independent Online

Britain's top disaster planners are today secretly simulating a plane crash into one of Britain's most radioactive nuclear power stations.

Britain's top disaster planners are today secretly simulating a plane crash into one of Britain's most radioactive nuclear power stations.

The unprecedented scenario – the largest civil emergency exercise staged for five years – is testing whether ministers, the police, hospitals and other emergency services could cope with the consequences of the resulting nuclear catastrophe.

The exercise, code-named Isis, follows warnings from the US and nuclear authorities that al-Qa'ida has threatened to attack nuclear plants.

Starting on Friday and continuing until today, it simulates the crashing of a fully loaded, medium-sized plane into Bradwell nuclear power station on the north-east coast of Essex, 45 miles from London.

Bradwell's two Magnox reactors were closed down at Easter after 40 years of operation, but its age makes it one of Britain's most contaminated nuclear stations. It also has poorly protected cooling ponds for highly radioactive used reactor fuel.

Led by the Department of Trade and Industry, the simulation involves 50 top officials and planners from Cobra, the Cabinet's secret emergency committee.

An official source close to the operation said: "The events of 11 September point to the importance of all this work. This is part of an ongoing review of the need to be prepared for all sorts of eventualities."

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