Odds and Ends
15 1, 1:53am
It's a minor point, but I would disagree on the plane safety. The first Boeing 747 flew in 1969. The three remaining German nuclear plants were started in 1982 (Emsland, Isar 2, Neckarwestheim 2). They were never designed to withstand a jumbo jet crash, and probably wouldn't. They were certified against a crashing Phantom fighter jet. (See "Gutachterliche Stellungnahme zu den Auswirkungen von Flugzeugunglücken und von gezielten Flugzeugabstürzen auf Atomkraftwerke".)
But you are perfectly right that smoke generators would have been only of limited protective value. To my knowledge, they never got installed. Even though such a system is rather inexpensive. Simply because nobody has been willing to to spend any additional money on German nuclear plants for decades. Just like right now, nobody is willing to pay for the periodic safety review which has now been overdue for 3 years.
And you are perfectly right. Disabling a nuclear power plant and risking a core meltdown is simple with military means. I don't thing you even need a systematic attack. A big enough explosion that breaks the containment and damages the cooling systems should do the trick. And the plants in Germany don't have core catchers to prevent the molten core from reaching and contaminating the phreatic water supplies. Which is one of the reasons why they would probably fail the next periodic safety review anyways.
This is also a nice implicit safety feature of wind turbines and solar: Even if somebody blows them up, they are pretty much non-toxic.