Britain’s nuclear power plants had 21 security breaches last year and experts suspect that China might be involved, U.K. police announced Monday.
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which is in charge of security at nuclear plants, found 13 cases of identity cards and similar materials being lost or stolen at the plants that could be used to grant access to one of the country’s eleven nuclear reactors. In one case, armory access codes were accidentally emailed to unauthorized personnel.
“It sets alarm bells ringing that so many security failures could have happened at a time when there are plans to expand the UK nuclear industry,” Dr. David Lowry, a research fellow at the US Institute for Resource and Security Studies, told The Ferret.
The Ferret obtained a document detailing each of the 21 nuclear plant security breaches in 2015. The documents shows the number of security breaches has substantially risen from only 13 last year, and some are worried that some of the breaches may have been a result of espionage. Eight of the security breaches, however, were actually caused by the police themselves.
Espionage was one of the reasons British Prime Minister Theresa May delayed a decision last month on the $23 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
Despite the espionage concerns, a columnist for a Chinese state-run media outlet called Britain’s reluctance to approve Hinkley Point a result of “China-phobia.”