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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UES Tightens Security at Power Plants

Unified Energy Systems, apparently alarmed by the terrorist attacks in the United States, is boosting security at its power plants.

UES chief Anatoly Chubais has ordered the company's subsidiaries and representative offices to introduce additional security measures and told UES's internal security service to strengthen its cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

In a telephone interview Friday, a company spokesman said this was not the first time UES has tightened security.

"After the apartment building explosions in Moscow two years ago we were also on a state of high alert," he said.

Power plants, especially those with nuclear reactors, are seen as potential targets for terrorists.

"There are 30 nuclear power-generating units in Russia located near populated cities," Vladimir Slivyak of the environmental organization Ecodefense said by telephone Friday. "If a plane were to strike them, catastrophe would be inevitable."

Closest to Moscow is the Kalinin nuclear power plant, located about 300 kilometers northwest of the city in the Tver region. If it were attacked, a radioactive cloud could easily blanket the capital, Slivyak said.

Although the designers of Russia's power plants have said the structures would survive a plane crash, Slivyak said this was unlikely as actual tests have never been conducted.

"Even if the building itself holds out against a crash, it could still damage some subsidiary utility, like electricity supply, or hit a storehouse holding the plant's nuclear waste, and cause a major breakdown," he said.

UES plants have been targeted by terrorists in the past, according to the company spokesman. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the spokesman said there was an attempt to set off an explosion at a Volga region electricity plant earlier this year.

It was unclear Friday exactly how Chubais' order would be implemented.

In Dagestan, one of the regions that have suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, the local power supplier was unaware of the order to boost security.

"We haven't received any instructions from Moscow," a manger at Dagenergo, the local UES subsidiary, said by telephone late Friday.