(Adds the GE Statement, Section 5)
By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) – Two people have a security fence in a GE Hitachi research reactor near San Francisco On Thursday, concerns over a facility that is one of the few in the country that uses highly enriched uranium, a material from which an atomic bomb could be made, were raised.
The intruders stumbled against a security fence in the Vallecitos Alameda County reactor, a 647.5-hectare area about 40 miles east of San Francisco, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission posted on its website Wednesday afternoon in a safety note.
They escaped the security of The plant was discovered, but soon after, suspects were arrested outside the facility.
Alameda County Sheriff Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NRC notice did not mention that the Pla It is one of the few companies in the country that uses highly enriched uranium (HEU). Such plants have been under pressure from non-proliferation concerns to convert to low-enriched uranium or LEU, a material that can not be used to make a bomb.
Hitachi Nuclear is a company between General Electric Co and Hitachi Ltd., GE said in a statement that "individuals have not breached the internal perimeter fence, access to buildings or operational areas, and were immediately approached by security forces." GE did not answer a question about the amount of HEU in the plant.
The NRC limits the amount of unirradiated HEU in research and test reactors to less than what would be required to build a nuclear bomb device. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for an opinion on the amount of HEU in the facility.
The safety significance of the event in Vallecitos was unclear, but "it highlights the continuing threat posed by nuclear-powered nuclear reactors: usable materials such as highly enriched uranium," said Edwin Lyman, Senior Scientist and Nuclear Safety Expert, advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists.
"These reactors should be switched to safer fuels or shut down," he said. 1
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.