Sweden to Increase Security at Nuclear Facilities

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Security will be increased at Sweden's nuclear power plants and atomic research laboratories next year as new rules drafted after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S. take effect, officials said Wednesday.

The Scandinavian country's nuclear inspection agency said nuclear facilities will be required to improve security checks to limit the risk of intrusion.

Physical barriers around nuclear plants will also be strengthened, agency spokesman Anders Jorle said, declining to give details.

''We planned new regulations already in 2001, but after the Sept. 11 attacks we did a bit of rethinking,'' he said. ''Not that there is a particularly severe threat against Swedish facilities, but it would have been wrong not to reflect on the risk of attacks also in Sweden.''

The regulations take effect by the end of 2006, and introducing added security measures will cost the owners of the facilities an estimated 800 million kronor (euro85.6 million, US$104.6 million), Jorle said.

Sweden has 10 nuclear reactors providing 50 percent of its electricity, but the government plans to phase them out in the coming decades.

The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate, which supervises all nuclear activities in Sweden, is a regulatory authority that reports to the Environment Ministry.

(c) The Associated Press