Who has access to power stations?
Electrabel does not decide who gets access to the Belgian nuclear power plants. Anyone who wants to gain acces to a nuclear power plant in Belgium must submit an application to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) and the National Safety Authority. Without valid screening with a favorable result, no access will be granted, not even to staff members or external employees.
How is the screening carried out?
Nuclear power plants are divided into different areas, each with its own safety regulations and access conditions. Going from one area to another is not possible without passing through multiple barriers – metal detection, a biometric scan, individual access pass with personal code, camera control, vehicle control.
Access control is carried out by an authorized security company. Only agents who have completed the training required by law may carry out surveillance and control tasks. Of course, they are also screened by the government and by the nuclear power plant. Since 2016, all nuclear sites in Belgium are guarded 24/7 by a SWAT team.
What happens to intruders?
If someone tries to enter a secured area illegally, this is immediately detected. All critical installations can be hermetically sealed and public emergency services are called in immediately.
In addition, there are also various measures against an ‘insider threat’, an employee who deliberately performs a malicious action. In certain areas no one is allowed to enter alone, there are additional cameras on specific installations and employees receive training on security culture.
What is being monitored?
People, baggage, vehicles, mail and warehouse supplies entering the site are all screened and searched for explosives, weapons, mobile phones and cameras.. People and vehicles are also screened for radioactive sources when leaving the site.
Upon entering the site, people pass through a metal detector and personal luggage goes through an RX scanner. Mail and parcels are not only scanned, but also checked by sniffer dogs. Vehicles are excluded from the site as much as possible, unless they are indispensable for work.
Can I visit a nuclear power plant?
Due to current international events and the threat of terrorism, access procedures for visitors to Belgian nuclear sites have become stricter. Consequently, company visits are no longer organized.
What about computer hacking?
Electrabel closely monitors the protection of sensitive data and attempts at computer hacking or cyber attacks. Every nuclear operator must comply with strict legal requirements. The stress tests that followed the accident in Fukushima examined how well protected the power plant are against computer attacks. Electrabel was found to meet all the requirements.
Electrabel applies specific measures to limit the risks of computer break-ins. These measures are regularly tested, monitored and continuously improved. The greatest protection against computer break-ins is the fact that all the operating systems of the nuclear power plants are completely separate from the plant’s PC networks. They are still largely analogue-driven.