Globe and Mail
October 13, 2001
Investigators probing the Sept. 11 terror attacks have been told that a Kuwaiti man was found with documents detailing Canadian atomic-energy facilities and disease-control labs.
U.S. agents were briefed in Canada regarding a 36-year-old Kuwaiti, whose belongings include documents that identify at least two Ottawa facilities, including an Atomic Energy Canada building and a federal disease- and virus-control site, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said they could not release more information.
The discovery of the documents detailing the Ottawa buildings adds weight to growing concerns that Canada may have been targeted by terrorists.
RCMP representatives said they could not confirm the arrest of the Kuwaiti. But they said infiltration of nuclear facilities has been identified as a major theme in the investigation of the threat that looms over North America.
“That is certainly part of what we are looking at,” RCMP spokesman Corporal Eric Simard said. “Aside from that, we can only say that is an ongoing criminal investigation and that details cannot be released.”
It is unclear which buildings the Kuwaiti man’s documents may have detailed. The Los Angeles Times report refers to “documents that identified specific buildings in an Ottawa government complex – notably the atomic-energy building and the virus- and disease-control labs.”
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has a low-level radiation-management facility in Ottawa, but no Health Canada buildings are nearby.
Health Canada has a nuclear-emergency lab in Ottawa, but it is not in the main complex with its other labs.
Health Canada has several labs, including the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, at the Tunney’s Pasture complex of government offices in west Ottawa.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has offices in Ottawa, but the nearest full-fledged nuclear facility is at AECL’s Chalk River laboratories, about 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa, where researchers handle enriched uranium.
Last month, a researcher at the Chalk River laboratory was turned over to the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
AECL refused to release details, except to say that the researcher had been fired after his security clearance had been revoked. RCMP representatives confirmed that their investigation had taken them to the Chalk River facility.
“Following the terrorist attack, we’re following up a number of leads,” RCMP spokeswoman Louise Lafrance said. “Chalk River – I can confirm that we were there.”
Any vulnerability of nuclear facilities has sparked concern on several fronts. Yesterday, the Toronto-based lobby group Energy Probe urged the shutdown of nuclear-reactor sites because of the terrorist threat.
“A terrorist attack on a nuclear-power station, when operating, could kill tens of thousands,” said Tom Adams, executive director of Energy Probe.
“An attack on a reactor station that has been temporarily shut down eliminates the risk of a terrorist-induced meltdown.”
In the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was shutting down its Web site over concerns that it could be used by terrorists to gather information, including the location of nuclear generating plants.
“In support of our mission to protect public health and safety, we are performing a review of all material on our site. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these difficult times,” the agency said before taking its site off-line.