Missiles to defend nuclear plants possible: Goodale

Toronto Star
November 3, 2001

Terrorism attack worries may prompt Ottawa to tighten security measures

OTTAWA (CP) — The federal government is considering deploying soldiers armed with surface-to-air missiles around Canada’s nuclear facilities to guard against possible terrorist attacks from the air, says Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale.

“That is a dimension to this that we obviously have under consideration,” Goodale said yesterday, commenting on a decision by France this week to take similar action.

Goodale said Ottawa believes no-fly zones over nuclear sites, which the United States has imposed for its reactors, would be difficult to enforce because of the time it would take for the military to respond.

“That in itself, unfortunately, is no guarantee when you’re dealing with what would be a suicide bomber,” he told reporters.

Goodale said the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission took steps immediately after Sept. 11 to increase security at the country’s seven nuclear facilities, which include five sites in Ontario, and two in Quebec and New Brunswick.

The U.S. has imposed no-fly zones over its reactors but Canadian officials are still pondering the issue, with no indication of when a decision will be made.

The FAA has imposed a ban on flights within a 10-nautical mile radius of and below 18,000 feet over nuclear reactors. The ban is effective until Nov. 7 and may be renewed.

France has gone even further, placing surface-to-air missiles around its reactors, while protecting them with extended radar surveillance.

In a report issued Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. make it “10 times more likely” that terrorists could target nuclear facilities.

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