nuclear 2convoys near Loch Lomond

Day and night, military convoys carrying nuclear warheads travel regularly up and down the country by road – between the nuclear warhead factory at Burghfield, near Aldermaston in Berkshire and the Trident nuclear base at Coulport in Scotland. M6, M40, and M42, some of the most congested motorways in the country, are frequently used.

The West Midlands CND website adds that lorries which carry nuclear materials including those from decommissioned warheads, for new warheads and for nuclear reactors for submarines, can use the same West Midlands motorways as the warhead convoys, but travel faster (up to 60mph) and do not travel at night. They also travel to the Rolls Royce factory Derby, sometimes using the M42, M6 and A38, or sometimes the M1.

nuclear symbolWMCND believes that the public should be told of these dangers. No radiation warning symbols (left) are now carried and though the public nor local authorities emergency planners are not warned, at least the police are always told when a nuclear convoy is expected.

Rob Edwards wrote an article in 2012 about a report from the UK government’s Health Protection Agency (HPA), commissioned by the government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation. It recorded 38 incidents in 2011 and 30 in 2010 – the second highest toll in six years, which saw a total of 195 mishaps. Read more on this Nuclear Industries blog.

The locations of the incidents were not disclosed in the report and no evidence of more recent monitoring of the transport of nuclear has been found in the public domain.

nuclear mareials lorry labelledMP Paul Flynn recently highlighted heightening of risk, due to the influence of Defence Equipment and Support Organisation (a ‘trading entity’ and organisation in the MoD) over government decision makers who decided that MoD vehicles transporting special nuclear materials should no longer carry hazard warning signs (right) when transporting radioactive cargoes.

There is a possible health hazard and also a risk to security as there is a ready market for such goods, with the potential addition of George Osborne’s proposed small nuclear reactors which can be carried on a lorry.

Elizabeth Way [former secretary of Just Defence] and Hazel Neal, on behalf of the West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, wrote to the Lord Mayor of Birmingham in June 2012:

Birmingham’s population is endangered by the transport of nuclear fuel rods through the residential heart of the city by train, and the transport of nuclear warheads on major roads and motorways around Birmingham. Birmingham is a Nuclear-Free City. Can you Sir, as Mayor, demand the discontinuation of nuclear transport through the city and its suburbs?”

See in more detail, plus news of a few accidents/incidents and Brian Quail’s protest halting the convoy: