As the potential dangers of nuclear road convoys were highlighted in a report launched yesterday in the BMI’s John Peak room, international negotiations are moving forward which – if successful – would eventually make the nuclear weapons industry obsolete.

Following a landmark recommendation last month by a UN General Assembly working group Austria’s foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, has announced that his country is to join other UN member states in tabling a resolution next month to convene negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons in 2017.

nuclear-hazard-signConcerns were expressed on this site in March about the failure to label vehicles carrying nuclear materials with hazard warnings (see left) and the decision not to alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being carried in their area.

ICANW, which was set up by concerned medics sets out the hazards clearly in the report – the lead author being Rob Edwards (above, centre), a name familiar to long-term readers of the New Scientist. It listed serious failings revealed in the MoD’s emergency simulation exercises and described in some detail the implications of actual nuclear convoy accidents (2002-2016). We list the more alarming items below, but many other incidents listed which would not have led to fires or contamination, were failures of communication or key equipment which would have made the convoys far more vulnerable to a successful terrorist attack. 

May 2003 fuel leak from rear of bomb carrier engine.

May 2003: bomb carrier engine overheating

October 2003: smoke after excessive use of brakes during descent

May 2004: bomb carrier brake not working

December 2004: oil leak from engine on bomb carrier

January 2005 smoke issued from bomb carrier fuse box

September 2008: escort vehicle brakes overheating

December 2009: convoy off route due to commander error

January 2009: bomb carrier fuse box failure

December 2009: escort vehicle transmission failure

July 2011: command vehicle fuel system failure

January 2012: fire tender brake fault

January 2012: escort vehicle gun port flap opened inadvertently

March 2012: load-securing system damaged during offload

June 2012: manhole cover collapsed under escort vehicle

September 2012: escort vehicle reported smoke and fumes in cab

May 2013 road traffic collision involving two convoy vehicles

May 2013 collision with a parked civilian vehicle

January 2014: collision with a car at an MoD base

November 2014: bomb carrier breakdown

May 2016: electrical equipment failure on support vehicle

MPs and MEPs are being asked to take these issues as seriously as MP Paul Flynn, who raised the issue in parliament in January and call for the reinstatement of all labelling of vehicles carrying hazardous substances and alert councils, police, fire and ambulance services when such loads are being driven through their area.

Download the report here: