The radioactive waste held at the site is far greater than what was at Chornobyl before the disaster.
In a major security breach, the UK's most hazardous nuclear site Sellafield has allegedly been hacked into by cyber groups closely linked to Russia and China, the Guardian reported. Sellafield, formerly known as Windscale, is a large multi-function nuclear site close to Seascale on the coast of Cumbria, England. It has around 11,000 people working in 1,300 buildings connected by 25 miles of roads across 700 acres, with vast quantities of radioactive waste in its silos.
Sources told the Guardian that breaches at the site were first detected as far back as 2015 when experts realised spy software had been embedded in the plant's computer networks. Sources also told the newspaper that they fear foreign operatives have accessed the highest levels of confidential material at the two-square-mile site.
''It is likely foreign hackers have accessed the highest echelons of confidential material at the site, which sprawls across 6 sq km (2 sq miles) on the Cumbrian coast and is one of the most hazardous in the world,'' the Guardian reported citing sources.
However, the effects have been "consistently covered up by senior staff" at the nuclear site, claims the report.
Meanwhile, Britain denied the claims and said it has no records or evidence to suggest that networks at the Sellafield nuclear site were the victim of a cyber attack, Reuters reported.
''Our monitoring systems are robust and we have a high degree of confidence that no such malware exists on our system. We take cyber security extremely seriously at Sellafield. All of our systems and servers have multiple layers of protection. Critical networks that enable us to operate safely are isolated from our general IT network, meaning an attack on our IT system would not penetrate these,'' Reuters quoted the government as saying.
''This was confirmed to the Guardian well in advance of publication, along with rebuttals to several other inaccuracies in their reporting,'' the government added.
In a separate statement, Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also said it had seen no evidence that state actors had hacked its systems as the paper had described. But the regulator said Sellafield was currently not meeting certain high standards of cyber security it required, adding that it had placed the plant under “significantly enhanced attention.
''Some specific matters are subject to an ongoing investigation process, so we are unable to comment further at this time,'' the ONR said.
Notably, Sellafield has been used to dump nuclear waste from atomic power generation and weapons programs since 1959, turning it into the world's largest store of plutonium. The radioactive waste held at the site is far greater than what was at Chernobyl before the disaster.