New studies on protection of Swiss nuclear power plants against a deliberate plane crash now completed

Swiss nuclear power plants have an adequate level of protection against a deliberate plane crash. This is confirmed by an update of the associated analyses ordered by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) in 2013. For security reasons, the details are confidential.

Both national and international guidelines require that important security-related documents and information be kept protected. The details of study data, methods and results are therefore classified. In the interests of national and international anti-terrorism measures, which protect the public and the environment, they will not be published.

However, the new analyses do confirm that Swiss nuclear power plants meet the regulatory requirements relating to a deliberate plane crash.

More in-depth analyses since the 2001 attacks

Following the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001, ENSI ordered operators to conduct a more in-depth analysis of nuclear safety in the event of a deliberate plane crash onto a nuclear power plant. In the meantime, new types of aircraft have come into operation and navigation technology has continued to develop. In 2013, ENSI therefore ordered operators to update their studies for the scenario of a deliberate plane crash.

Updating the analyses

In particular, it was necessary to conduct new flight simulator tests to determine approach speeds, in order to take account of developments in control and navigation systems. Collision impact calculations were also refined to take account of new knowledge gained since the 2002 studies were done. The analyses also considered the larger types of aircraft used today. All Swiss nuclear power plants meet the relevant regulatory requirements.

The upgrading and expansion of emergency measures since the last impact assessments of a deliberate-plane-crash scenario, have improved the level of protection against such an incident.

On an international level, precautions against a potential deliberate plane crash primarily concentrate on preventing such an incident from occurring. The relevant protective measures have been improved in Switzerland as well.