Heavily armed gang attacks nuclear fuel convoy in Brazil

Angra Nuclear Power PlantA convoy of trucks carrying nuclear fuel to one of Brazil’s nuclear plants was attacked by a heavily armed gang on Tuesday, according to police reports. The convoy was carrying uranium fuel from Resende, an industrial city in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. Its destination was the Angra Nuclear Power Plant in the coastal city of Angra dos Reis, which is located 100 miles south of Resende. Angra is Brazil’s sole nuclear power plant. It consists of two pressurized water reactors, Angra I and Angra II. It is owned by Eletrobras, Brazil’s state-owned power utility firm, which is also the world’s tenth largest electric utilities company.

According to Brazil’s O Globo newspaper, the nuclear fuel convoy came under heavy attack by gunmen as it reached the outskirts of Angra dos Reis, just a few miles north of the power plant. The Brazilian Federal Highway Police said in a statement that its vehicles that were escorting the nuclear fuel convoy were shot at and returned fire. It added that the attackers fled the scene without anyone getting hurt, and that no arrests were made. The convoy then reached the power plant without further incident 20 minutes following the shootout. The police statement was followed by a public announcement by Eletronuclear, Eletrobras’ nuclear utility arm. The announcement argued that national security was not compromised by the attack, as the fuel carried by the trucks consisted of “uranium in its natural state”. It would therefore have to be weaponized with the use of advanced mechanical instruments before it could be truly harmful.

Brazilian Federal Highway Police officials told reporters that they did not believe that the gunmen had planned to attack the nuclear fuel convoy. They claimed that the convoy happened to be passing from the scene of the attack as a shootout was taking place between members of rival drug gangs, which are known to control the outskirts of Angra dos Reis. Some of the gang members began shooting at the police vehicles escorting the convoy, apparently without realizing that the trucks they were shooting at were carrying nuclear fuel.

The incident underscores the steady rise and increasing aggressiveness of organized criminal gangs in Brazil, which, according to some observers, are beginning to resemble Mexico’s drug cartels. Angra dos Reis’ Mayor Fernando Jordão told O Globo that the residents of his city felt unprotected by the federal government. “Regional security must be improved”, he added, especially since “there are nuclear plants here. This region is very sensitive”, he said.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 March 2019 | Permalink

We welcome informed comments and corrections. Send us yours using the form below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s