Radiation Free Lakeland’s Marianne Birkby is honoured to be invited to speak at the next Mystery Tea House film showing in Preston. …‘Into Eternity’ organised by REAL, Friends of the Earth and Beautiful Planet
This eye opening film is of more relevance to Preston and the North West than we are being led to believe. The film will be shown on 24th February at 7pm
Plans for the biggest nuclear power development in Europe on the West Coast of Cumbria, Geological Dumping of Nuclear Waste under the Lake District and the risks of fracking just five miles from the worlds first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant will be discussed.
What has the planned geological dump for nuclear wastes in Finland got to do with Preston? More than you think!!
Copeland Labour hopeful Gillian Troughton supports the nuclear industry “No ifs, no buts”
Jeremy Corbyn has finally given his personal backing to a new nuclear power plant in Cumbria – just as doubts emerged over its expected Japanese investors.
The Labour leader said that he was now supporting the planned Moorside complex, which is expected to create 20,000 jobs and has become a key issue in the Copeland by-election.
Corbyn has spent weeks refusing to be pinned down on the scheme, and last weekend again told ITV Border that it was ultimately the Government’s decision and the timing was “some way off”.
Yet on Wednesday he told HuffPost UK: “Labour supports new nuclear as part of the UK’s energy mix to keep the lights on and tackle climate change.
The proposed Moorside nuclear site
“I back the proposed new power station at Moorside which will bring thousands of skilled jobs, and hope the company can provide the necessary assurances on the strike price and value for money.”
His strong backing came as Toshiba announced it was reviewing its entire nuclear operations outside Japan.
The company has a 60% stake in the NuGeon consortium that is driving the Moorside development and the UK government is set to talk to a South Korean firm to replace it.
The Tories have tried to make Corbyn’s anti-nuclear views a key issue in the by-election in Copeland, which was triggered when Labour MP Jamie Reed stood down to take a job at the nearby Sellafield waste plant.
The by-election, which will be held on February 23 at the same time as the Stoke-on-Trent Central contest, will be a key test for Corbyn’s leadership as Labour defends a narrow 2,500 majority from the Tories.
For weeks, Labour activists locally have urged him to give his full backing in supporting the new nuclear plant.
Deputy leader Tom Watson and GMB trade unionists have been campaigning to persuade voters that local Labour candidate Gillian Troughton is a strong backer of nuclear power.
“Yesterday @tom_watson popped to Copeland to meet Sellafield workers and back my pledge to support the nuclear industry. No ifs. No buts.”
— “Gillian Troughton (@GillTroughton) 11:20 AM – 31 Jan 2017
The issue was raised in Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday, when Cumbrian MP John Woodcock asked for Government reassurance about the future of the plant after Toshiba’s announcement.
Theresa May said: “I and the Business Secretary are involved and are keen to see these nuclear deals stay on track.
“I can assure you the Government’s commitment is there.”
Q3. Westinghouse’s Springfields site in my constituency employs more than 1,200 people in highly skilled jobs manufacturing nuclear fuel, which generates 15% of the UK’s electricity. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the nuclear industry is of crucial importance to the north-west economy? Will she continue to support the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations to guarantee jobs in the region? 
· The Prime Minister
I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that new nuclear does have a crucial role to play in securing our future energy needs, especially as we are looking to move to a low-carbon society. The industrial strategy that the Government will be setting out will have a strong emphasis on the role of regions in supporting economic growth and ensuring that the economy works for everyone. Like him, I very much welcome the proposals from NuGen and Toshiba to develop a new nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy continues to work closely with NuGen and other developers as they bring their proposals forward.
Recently I was asked for maps of the Moorside site – here a satellite map indicates the overall view. From Sellafield the Moorside site would stretch to Beckermet , Braystones and Calderbridge and include the flood plain of the River Ehen. The near proximity to the jewel in the crown of the Lake District- Wastwater can be seen here. As you can see from the map this is a greenfield site with many special areas of wildlife and cultural protection – those protections are being overridden to accommodate this “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.”
Those spending huge energy and finances on opposing the pylons are in the wrong fight. No greater illustration of this is needed than the sight of rabidly pronuclear MP John Woodcock leading the fight against the pylons.
“1 Power Blocks: 3x AP1000 reactors plus turbine, annex and auxiliary buildings.
2 Beckermet, Braystones and Calder Bridge: NuGen will work with the local community to avoid and mitigate impacts of construction for its neighbours as far as possible.
Roads, Internal Roads and Limited Car Parking: access roads to Moorside Site to be established and access roads to Sellafield Site are likely to be altered. Other changes will mitigate the impact on the A595. During the construction, there would be up to 200 car parking spaces for blue badge parking, coaches and essential safety and security staff
plus 100 for visitors.
3 Sellafield Site: working under a long-term co-operation agreement, NuGen will work closely with Sellafield and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
4 Environmental mitigation: NuGen will provide environmental mitigation and compensation, including earthworks, landscaping, replacement habitats, environmental offsetting, common land replacement and floodplain compensation.
5 Low Church Moss SSSI and St Bridget’s Church: both have determined the position of the plant and development is being carefully sited to minimise the impact on the setting of St Bridget’s Church and the Saxon stone crosses in the grave yard.
6 Cooling Tunnels and Forebay: an integral part of the Circulating Water System, the Forebay and four tunnels up to 4km long (two intake, two outflow) will provide and discharge sea water to and from the Irish Sea.
7 Marine Off-Loading Facility (MOLF) and Heavy Haul Road: a key part of NuGen’s transport strategy is to bring materials and components to site by sea to the MOLF. Breakwaters may be needed and NuGen may need to establish a Harbour Authority.
8 Earthworks: mounded areas to the northwest of the Moorside Power Station will accommodate up to 15 million m3 of excavated material, which will be landscaped as screening for the local community and could provide an opportunity for recreational amenity. (Editors Note – this area is “too contaminated” for a low level nuclear waste dump according to the industry and yet it is fine to excavate and heap up tonnes of it with crapola leaching out?)
9 River Ehen: will need to be crossed by the floodplain bridge to carry the Heavy Haul Road from the MOLF onto site and by a new rail viaduct. No bridge piers are expected in the river but works may be required to ensure the integrity of the bridge and river structure.
10 Rail: a new rail passenger station and freight facility are required to provide transport for staff, construction workers and freight needed for the Moorside Project.
11 Support Buildings: would house a range of administration, medical, storage, centralised fire support, maintenance, security facilities and an outage maintenance building. The tallest building would be the administration building at up to eight storeys tall.
12 Substation and Switchyard: required to allow the electricity generated to be exported to the national electricity transmission system.
Public Rights Of Way: various public rights of way exist over the Moorside Site. NuGen is assessing the impact of the Moorside Project on these rights of way and potential diversions.”
Editors Note: this whole area is a flood plain with run off from these fields already causing regular flooding in Beckermet – the concreting over of this area would exacerbate this AND the run off would be from the excavated mounds not to mention the untried untested AP1000 reactors
A reminder of recent flooding…the nursery at Beckermet would be less than 700 metres from Moorside
Firemen rescue children from nursery
Last updated at 13:00, Friday, 05 September 2008
FLASH floods trapped children inside a nursery school as heavy rain and lightning hit West Cumbria.
Three-year-old Imogen Marsh is carried to safety by Fire Fighter Tony Biggins out of Beckermet Nursery after it had bee marooned by the flood water.
1 of 4 Photos
Firefighters had to dig away huge amounts of silt washed up by heavy rain that was blocking the door of Beckermet Nursery before helping carry 20 youngsters to safety yesterday.
Nursery staff say the water “came out of nowhere” following heavy rainfall that quickly washed up to eight inches of water into their new £175,000 building, which they moved into on Monday.
And the flooding in Beckermet, which also damaged houses at the Mill Field, was not the area’s only weather emergency yesterday.
The chimney of the former station building at Drigg Station – now a craft shop – was struck by lightning, starting a small fire.
A clean-up operation is now underway at the nursery, on Sellafield Road, with the charity that runs it assessing the damage.
Committee member Steve Malpas, whose four-year-old daughter Kiera was one of the children trapped inside, said rain started falling at about 11.30am and quickly turned torrential.
He said: “It was like a monsoon. There were flash floods. The water came down across the road. It washed our car park out.
“There was six to eight inches of water in the new building. It has taken us five years to get that building. We’re a charity. We’ve spent all our money doing this.
“About three tonnes of silt was up against the front door – nobody could get out. Firefighters had to come and dig to get to the front door.”
Mr Malpas said the children inside were fine despite the emergency, only realising what happened as they were carried out.
“The staff did a fantastic job keeping the situation calm,” he added.
Firefighters from Egremont, Whitehaven and Seascale dealt with the flooding, pumping water from flooded properties at the Mill Field into the nearby river.
Station Manager Joe Little said they had to prioritise the risk because water was flooding into homes – with most of it running towards the nursery.
Firefighters told staff to keep the doors shut until water levels had dropped.
Mr Little added: “We asked them to stay in the building because if they opened the doors they could have had water running right through the building. It was up to two-foot at the bottom. If people were coming for their children firecrews were taking them out to the parents.”
Ian Curwen, press officer for Copeland Borough Council said: “We’ve sent out a lot of sandbags in the area yesterday and today.
“There has been a bitof flooding in the Millfield area, two houses were affected.
“If we get down pours like we did yesterday, that might cause some problems again today.
Substantial flooding was also reported on the A595 between Iron Bridge at Beckermet and the Black Beck Roundabout, Egremont.
Mr Curwen said: “The A595 often floods, and it may well flood again today. The council will be a meeting on September 23 to discuss how to resolve the problem.”
In Thornhill, two houses flooded and fire crews from Egremont, with help from police, pumped water onto the disused railway line.
Meanwhile, a woman was praised by firefighters for her quick reaction after lightening struck her craft shop at Drigg Station.
Group Manager Dave Edgar said the lightening bolt had struck the chimney, gone down its lining and arced on a gas pipe at the bottom, starting a small fire.
He added: “The lady in the shop had a fire extinguisher and put the fire out herself, otherwise it could have been quite severe. We can only praise her quick-thinking.”
The Met Office predicted that more heavy rain could fall in Cumbria today and continuing into tomorrow, although getting lighter and more intermittent.
But a spokesman said: “Fortunately the orientation of the weather system bringing the rain means it will reach Cumbria on an east or northeasterly wind.
“This is good news for much of the county because it allows the north Pennines to filter out much of the heavier rain.
“Although we could, over the period, see appreciable rainfall totals, the wettest parts of the county look like being in the south and east with least rain towards the west and northwest.”
An observation…..while activist and NGO attention has been (deliberately?) ratcheted up and focussed on fracking the nuclear industry has been lining up its myriad ducks from the South of England to Wales to Cumbria with a view to poisoning our water, land, sea and our DNA.. People often say to me “Why bother, its too big to fight, Moorside is a done deal” but this is true only if we are so cowed and intimidated by the entrenched and violent (yes violent) nuclear industry that we let their evil ambitions be a done deal. RESIST! Here is to containing Sellafield and Stopping Moorside in order to ensure many many more New Years being seen in – here in our beautiful, vulnerable Cumbria. Thanks to All Nuclear Resisters Everywhere!!
Review of the Year
January 7th 2016 NEW YEARS EVE NUCLEAR WASTE SITE FLOOD ALERT VIRTUALLY UNREPORTED Main Stream Media did not report dangers of flooding to UK’s Drigg Nuclear Waste Site “The Ecologist highlights a UK Environment Agency alert about the River Irt which is adjacent to Drigg described as a nuclear waste repository. Basically however it’s simply a ‘nuclear landfill site’
February 28th 2016 WYLFA CONSULTATION Radiation Free Lakeland object strongly to the plan for new nuclear in Wales and “We urge others to write opposing plans for new nuclear in Wales (or anywhere!). The “high burn” waste from new build would be many times hotter than from existing nuclear plants.”
April 30th LOCK THE GATE ON DRIGG –The Drigg site owners, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority pass day to day running of the site to multinational corporations involved in “decommissioning’ and those corporations largely monitor themselves. SO the same people responsible for producing the waste are also responsible for dumping it. The Environment Agency has told us it sees no conflict of interest in this…but we do! Studsvik, a swedish company who operate the only radioactive scrap metal plant in Europe here in Cumbria is one of the partners of the Drigg site. On 20th April Studsvik’s waste operations were taken over by EDF.
May 2nd COMEDIAN PAUL MERTON GOES WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD – DRIGG Is this the best expose in the last two decades of the UK’s “Low Level” Nuclear Dump ? Paul Merton fearlessly goes where Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have not dared to tread for many a long year and shows the world the madness of nuclear…and all in a quaint little Lakeland coastal village called Drigg.
May 5th DRIGG DECISION DELAYED YET AGAIN WHILE CONCRETE IS POURED IN THE ‘VAULTS’ First we were told this would be in April, then May – now the decision has been put back once again. The next possible time it may be heard is June 23rd ….but we will not know for sure until 7 days ahead of the meeting by the Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council. The toothless Environment Agency have already given their blessing and the operators have already poured tonnes of concrete over coastal land precariously near to the Drigg dunes for more “vaults” despite planning approval having not been given.
May 9th 2016 “POPULATION MIXING” LETTER HAND DELIVERED TO DECC “The industry and government continue to deny any link between radioactive emissions and childhood leukemia, preferring to throw supposedly reassuring red herrings to the public in the form of “population mixing” as a viral agent causing increased leukaemia’s. Here the plan in Cumbria is to parachute in 4000 temporary workers to the Moorside site. The village in which the site is situated, Beckermet has a population of 1,619 (2011). The nursery and primary school would be 700m from the proposed development.”
May 31st KESWICK SAYS NO TO NEW NUCLEAR 20 MILES AWAY AS THE CROW FLIES Today in Keswick 90% of the people we spoke to were opposed to new nuclear build in Cumbria. This does not tally with what NuGen are saying which is that “Cumbria wants new nuclear build.” A recent poll in the Evening Mail indicated that 85% of those voting do not want new nuclear build in Cumbria. Tourists said they would think twice about coming to Cumbria if dangerous new nuclear reactors were built here.
June 9th CUMBRIA WILDLIFE TRUST TEAM UP WITH NUGEN FOR WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY The local press trumpets the headline “NuGen Lends a Hand for World Environment Day” the article goes on ….”Employees from NuGen, the company responsible for delivering Moorside, teamed up with representatives from Cumbria Wildlife Trust and The Forestry Commission. We have been informed that people living on the coast near the proposed Moorside site where “exploratory” borehole drilling is already stirring up decades of radioactive waste (no planning permissison necessary say NuGen) have been warned by Nuvia (who do radioactive sampling on the beaches) not to pick up polythene sheeting or plastic. No doubt Cumbria Wildlife Trust will not be fazed by this and will continue to promote childrens activities on the beach?
July 22nd MOORSIDE 2nd CONSULTATION The 2nd Moorside Consultation for the “biggest nuclear development in Europe” finishes on 30th July. ‘Too Big and Too Nasty to Fight‘ is the View of the Proposed Moorside Plan from so many good people like the Director of Cumbria Wildlife Trust who feel utterly defeated by the nuclear juggernaught coming our way. This is of course what the industry wants you to think. BUT WE CAN DEFEAT THEM, ALL IT TAKES IS YOU. Thousands of people have already joined the Resistance .
August 2nd DRIGG DECISION: ‘WE ARE CAUGHT IN A TRAP, NO WAY OUT, BECAUSE WE LOVE NUCLEAR WASTE TOO MUCH?’ On 15th July a small committee of Cumbrian Councillors in Kendal took the decision to stack nuclear waste ever higher in shipping containers on the shifting sands of the West Cumbrian coast at the quaint village of Drigg. No fuss, no fanfare, no comment, only one article in the local press which airbrushed out the opposition – its a wonder there is ANY opposition what with the deafening silence! That rather triumphant article appeared in the Whitehaven News and it should set ALL alarm bells ringing. The operators of the Drigg “Low Level” Nuclear Waste “repository” are gleefully reported saying: ” It is safe to dispose of LLW at the LLWR both now and centuries into the future.”
August 23rd FRAGILE HABITATS – LETTER IN THE GUARDIAN “George Monbiot is right: wholesale destruction of wildlife is obscene (The grouse shooters aim to kill, 16 August). Why no grousing, then, on the imminent destruction of the diverse habitats and endangered species, including many red list birds, on the west coast of Cumbria? Why no grouse about the collateral damage in obsessive pursuit of the “biggest nuclear development in Europe” at Moorside? The environmental destruction planned is on a scale the most bloodthirsty grouse hunter could only dream of.”
August 30th PYLONS: WHAT DECISION WOULD YOU LIKE THE NATIONAL GRID TO MAKE? 70% SAY NO TO MOORSIDE The Evening Mail’s Pylon Poll has the option (unlike the actual Consultations) to vote No to Moorside…the poll is now standing at 70% saying No to Moorside …this is absolutely remarkable and very heartening given that the Friends of the Lake District and other groups along with the media are concentrating campaign efforts and media space only on the damaging impact of pylons rather than the obscenity of the main event!!
18th Sept HINKLEY C – THE CUMBRIAN CONNECTION –LETTER TO TERESA MAY PM “The spent fuel will remain on site until it has cooled sufficiently to allow it to be disposed of to the GDF, which may be around 50 years after the end of generation.” So the Hinkley C plan hinges on “The GDF” being available to dump the “hot” waste in, notwithstanding the tsunami of day to day operational wastes that would come to Drigg..
September 19th 2016 DID GEORGE MONBIOT JUST POP THE WHITE ELEPHANT MYTH OF NEW NUCLEAR? George is ever so keen on new nuclear especially on burning plutonium wastes. So when he uses the term “white elephant” we should sit up and take notice. We should question why mainstream NGOs have allowed new nuclear proposals to become synonymous with a “White Elephant” rather than for example the far less benign “Hydra” monster of myth and legend
October 5th FRACKING SELLAFIELD? Letter to the Communities Secretary Opposing Fracking in Lancashire. Radiation Free Lakeland add our voice to all those Lancashire Communities and Councils opposing Fracking. Here in Cumbria the new Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) for Sellafield as determined by the Office for Nuclear Regulation has dramatically increased the emergency zone following research on possible seismic activity . As you know Fracking may well trigger seismic events. The release of just 1percent of the radioactivity from Sellafield’s high level liquid wastes would render much of the U.K Uninhabitable and pollute the rest of the world. The U.K. is already too small for the existing nuclear plants and in particular the uniquely vulnerable radioactive wastes at Sellafield.Please do not approve fracking activity in Lancashire which is just a stones throw from Sellafield in geological and seismic terms.”
October 9th 2016 WASDALE SHOW – 100% SAY STOP MOORSIDE This is remarkable given that this area is being bigged up as a “Nuclear Heartland” by Tom Samson the Chief Executive of Nugen (60% Toshiba and 40% Engie).The heart of Cumbria is alive and well no thanks to the heart tissue destroying Strontium emissions from the nuclear industry.
October 31st LAKELAND STORY FOR ALL HALLOWS EVE – THE BEAST OF BECKERMET It seems the official bodies tasked with protecting our wildlife have been well and truly nobbled by the insidious many-headed nuclear beast. Maybe the Woodwose as protector of the woods and wildlife is needed now more than ever? But who will protect the habitat of the Beast of Beckermet?
November 6th 2016 VIKING HOARD FOUND AT PROPOSED NUCLEAR SITE IN CUMBRIA A Viking Hoard found at Beckermet was actually found on the site earmarked by the UK government for the “biggest nuclear development in Europe”. It has been determined a National Treasure. “Hoards” have filled in the blanks for certain murky periods of history, and even re-written history.
November 30th 2016 NUCLEAR FREE LOCAL AUTHORITIES ENDORSE DAMNING REPORT The independent report was drafted by Pete Roche, the NFLA Scotland Policy Advisor and an independent consultant on nuclear policy. It was commissioned by the Cumbrian NGO Radiation Free Lakeland. “significant and alarming problems with this reactor design that could lead to catastrophic damage in the event of a serious accident.”
December 8th 2016 AUSTRIA THANKS CUMBRIANS. Marianne Birkby, Radiation Free Lakeland’s founder says, “ this acknowledgment and moral support from Austria sends us much needed encouragement to continue and to build on the resistance to Moorside. As the Federal Chancellor says, Europe needs citizens who advocate the exit from nuclear energy. Campaigning on the pylon route alone will not cut it. It is up to groups and individuals in Cumbria to join and to put their shoulders to the wheel in building resistance so that we can stop the biggest nuclear development in Europe and ensure a safe and sustainable future.”
The nuclear regulator has been accused of turning a blind eye to incidents
The events appear to be serious and include a torpedo accidentally being
fired by HMS Argyll when it was moored at Devonport Naval base in Plymouth.
The 9ft missile shot through the air before blowing a hole in a perimeter
fence and smashing into a storage container.
Other incidents involve workers being contaminated at a nuclear warhead
base, the discarding of uranium sludge and the radioactive element caesium
in bin bags and more than 30 power station fires.
And it appears incidents have more than doubled since 2010 and are now
recorded on an almost daily basis.
“I do believe that the ONR downplays the incidents’ severity “ – Nuclear
According to reports there has also been a number of incidents which could
have affected members of the public.
Those involve three serious traffic accidents, including a collision
between vehicle carrying nuclear material and a lorry on the M1 and a
transport lorry flipping over causing damage to two containers holding
Between 2012 and 2015 the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) recorded 973
However they were either rated zero or left unrated on the International
Nuclear Event Scale (INES) meaning they were regarded as having “no nuclear
An engineer told The Times: “I do believe that the ONR downplays the
incidents’ severity and the incompetence that has led to these events.”
There have been more than 1000 recorded incidents in three years
However the ONR has denied it is turning a blind eye to serious incidents
and that it is acting in accordance with international law.
A spokesman said: “We are robust in upholding the law and use our
regulatory enforcement powers to hold the industry to account wherever
“The rating of nuclear safety ‘events’ is based on agreed international
criteria and it is wrong to suggest that we would seek to ‘downplay’ these.
“The standards of safety we expect from the nuclear industry are extremely
challenging and the majority of events are of very minor nuclear safety
Last summer Devonport naval base was warned of legal action amid a series
of safety breaches.
Radioactive cooling water was accidentally discharged into a submarine
reactor compartment, the ONR reported.
The UK has a number of nuclear submarines which patrol the waters
The site which refits Britain’s nuclear submarines, was warned that its
practices were “below standard”.
But defence contractor Babcock said in a statement: “Improvements relating
to the ONR enforcement notice and other recently reported incidents at
Devonport Royal Dockyard are being addressed through a broader nuclear
safety improvement programme to further enhance our current high levels of
safety, in agreement with ONR.”
The MoD added: “Safety at HM Naval Base Devonport, as with all Ministry of
Defence sites, is of paramount importance.
“Thorough investigations into these events were carried out and, where
necessary, measures were immediately put in place to prevent them from
According to research there has been six serious nuclear accidents in the
UK since 1957.
Contamination is par for the course with nuclear power
In 1957, radioactivity contaminated about 800 farms and introduced
Strontium 90 to domestic milk supply.
Milk was sold to the public without any warnings after the incident in
That same year on 8 Oct 1957 a fire ignited plutonium piles, contaminating
surrounding dairy farms in the worst Nuclear accident in British history
and was recorded as 5 on the INES scale.
In May 1967 there was a partial meltdown at Chapelcross nuclear power
station in Dumfries and Galloway after graphite debris partially blocked a
fuel channel causing a fuel element to melt and catch fire.
In September 1996 a fuel reprocessing plant was shut down after elevated
radiation levels were detected in waste-water discharged to the sea at
Calder Hall was opened by the young Queen Elizabeth on 17 October 1956, but it was never a ‘commercial’ civil nuclear plant. Her script writer penned the following for Her Majesty to say from the podium: “This new power, which has proved itself to be such a terrifying weapon of destruction, is harnessed for the first time for the common good of our community.”
In fact it was clearly stated at the time of the plant’s opening, in a remarkable little book entitled Calder Hall: The Story of Britainís First Atomic Power Station, written by Kenneth Jay, and published in October 1956 by the Government’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell to mark Calder’s commissioning. Mr Jay wrote:
Major plants built for military purposes such as Calder Hall are being used as prototypes for civil plants . . . the plant has been designed as a dual-purpose plant to produce plutonium for military purposes as well as electric power . . . it would be wrong to pretend that the civil programme has not benefited from, and is not to some extent dependent upon, the military programme.”
An atomic “clock” registered the first generated nuclear power
Calder Hall was closed in March 2003, fifty years after its construction bagan. Interestingly, the first ñ nominally commercial – reactor at Hinkley, the Magnox ëAí plant, was operated for military production purposes too.
The first public hint came with a public announcement on 17 June 1958 by the Ministry of Defence, notably not the Ministry of Fuel and Power that oversaw the civilian nuclear programe – on: ìthe production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear ] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs in the Hinkley reactor. .
A week later in the UK Parliament, the Conservative Cabinet minister Paymaster General, Reginald Maudling told MPs: “At the request of the Government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise.
The Government made this request in order to provide the country, at comparatively small cost, with a most valuable insurance against possible future defence requirements. The cost of providing such insurance by any other means would be extremely heavy.”
(The first nuclear power plant on the Hinkley Point site in Somerset was built in the 1960s.)
This was challenged by Mr Mason, who asked:
“Is the Paymaster-General aware that, as far as I am concerned, it is a disgusting imposition on what was primarily termed a peaceful programme in nuclear energy? Of course, I am pleased to hear that it does not interfere with the atomic energy programme prepared by the Government although I accept that with some measure of reservation? Was this really necessary, in view of the fact that we are producing, perhaps at a slow rate, plutonium.Particularly having regard to the fact that the Dounreay atomic breeder is coming into production very soon, was this imposition on our peaceful atomic power programme really necessary?”
The minister retorted:
“The hon. Gentleman says that it is an imposition. The only imposition on the country would have arisen if the Government had met our defence requirements for plutonium by means far more expensive than those proposed in this suggestion.”
The headline story in the Bridgwater Mercury, serving the community around Hinkley, on that day (24 June} was:
“MILITARY PLUTONIUM To be manufactured at Hinkley”
The article explained:
“An ingenious method has been designed for changing the plant without reducing the output of electricity”
CND was reported to be critical, describing this as a “distressing step” insisting:
“The Government is obsessed with a nuclear militarism which seems insane.”
Sadly, with the blinkered push to replace Trident today, not much seems has changed in the 58 years since!
The left wing Tribune magazine of 27 June 1958 was very critical of the deal under the headline
‘Sabotage in the Atom Stations’
“For the sake of making more nuclear weapons, the Government has dealt a heavy blow at the development of atomic power stations.
“Unless this disastrous decision is reversed, we shall pay dearly in more ways than one for the sacrifice made on the grim alter of the H-bomb.”
The late Michael Foot, that great inveterate peace-monger, who later became Labour leader, was then the Tribune editor.
Then, on 3 July 1958, the United Kingdom and United States signed a detailed agreement on co-operation on nuclear weapons development, after several months of Congressional hearings in Washington DC, but no oversight whatsoever in the UK Parliament! As this this formed the basis, within a mere five years, for the UK obtaining the Polaris nuclear WMD system from the UK, and some 20 odd years later for the UK to buy American Trident nuclear WMDs , the failure of Parliament to at least appraise the security merits of this key bilateral atomic arrangement was unconscionable.
A month later Mr Maudling told backbencher Alan Green MP in Parliament that:
“Three nuclear power stations are being modified, but whether they will ever be used to produce military grade plutonium will be for decision later and will depend on defence requirements. The first two stations, at Bradwell and Berkeley, are not being modified and the decision to modify three subsequent stations was taken solely as a precaution for defence purposes.”
“It in no way reflects any change in the assessment of the economics of the British nuclear power stations, and there is therefore no reason whatever why the sale abroad of British nuclear equipment should be in any way affected.”
Following further detailed negotiations, the Ango-American Mutual Defense Agreement on Atomic Energy matters (defence is spelled with an ìsî even in the UK version of the Treaty, demonstrating the origin of the drafts!) , to give it its full treaty title, was amended on 7 May 1959, to permit the exchange of nuclear explosive material including plutonium and enriched uranium for military purposes.
The Times science correspondent wrote on 8 May 1959 under the headline
“Production of Weapons at Short Notice”
“The most important technical fact behind the agreement is that of civil grade – such as will be produced in British civil nuclear power stations- can now be used in weapons”
Within a month, Mr Maudling in Parliament told Tory back bencher, Wing Commander Eric Bullus who had asked the Paymaster-General what change there has been in the intention to modify three nuclear power stations to enable plutonium suitable for military use to be extracted should the need arise.
“Last year Her Majesty’s Government asked the Central Electricity Generating Board to make a small modification in the design of certain power stations to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted if need should arise. Having taken into account recent developments, including the latest agreement with the United States, and having re-assessed the fissile material which will become available for military purposes from all sources, it has been decided to restrict the modifications to one power station, namely, Hinkley Point.” Hansard, 22 June 1959 vol 607 columns 847-9 http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1959/jun/22/nuclear-power-stations#column_848
And so it may be seen that the UKs first civil nuclear programme was used as a source of nuclear explosive plutonium for the US military, with Hinkley Point A the prime provider.
Two decades later, Wales national daily, the Western Mail, on 8 October 1984 reported that the largest Magnox reactor in the UK, at Wylfa on Anglesey, had also been used to provide plutonium for the military. Plutonium from both reactors went into the UK military stockpile of nuclear explosives, and could well still be part of the UK Trident warhead stockpile today.
Subsequent research by the Scientists Against Nuclear Arms, published in the prestigious science weekly journal, Nature and presented to the Sizewell B Public Inquiry in 1983-4 and Hinkley C Public Inquiry in 1989, has demonstrated that around 6700 kilogrammes of plutonium, was shipped to the United States under the military exchange agreement, which stipulates explicitly that the material must be used for military purposes by the recipient county.
To put this quantity into context, a nuclear warhead contains around 5 kilos of plutonium so this is a very significant quantity
Earlier this month, a commentary article by Oxford University academic, Dr Peter Wynn Kirby, in The New York Times ( “Britain’s Nuclear Cover-Up, October 11, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/opinion/britains-nuclear-cover-up.html?_r=1) discussed the possibility that he first newbuild nuclear reactor to be built in 20 years in the UK, at Hinkley C, also has military links, this time not to nuclear explosives production, but to nuclear reactor propulsion.
As Dr Kirby states: “A painstaking [100-page] study of obscure British military policy documents, released last month by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, demonstrates that the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain’s nuclear submarine program.”
Nuclear deception has a long and undistinguished history: it seems we have come full circle 60 years after the birth of nuclear power as the Siamese twin of military nuclear technology six decades after Calder Hall’s opening.
Radiation Free Lakeland took the Stop Moorside message to the beautiful setting of the Wasdale Show yesterday.
At our stall, well stocked with information, a quiz and friendly faces, people stopped to chat and sign the Stop Moorside petition which now is nearing 11,ooo signatures. Of all the people we spoke to NOT ONE said they were in favour of new nuclear build next to Sellafield.
This is remarkable given that this area is being bigged up as a “Nuclear Heartland” by Tom Samson the Chief Executive of Nugen (60% Toshiba and 40% Engie).
The heart of Cumbria is alive and well no thanks to the heart tissue destroying Strontium emissions from the nuclear industry. Tissue damage is one of the cocktail of listed diseases on the Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases for nuclear workers (those outside the gates have no CSRLD .. info on health impacts on this pdf TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR STRONTIUM)
Radiation Free Lakeland are no lovers of the BBC’s recent coverage of nuclear issues…so we were extremely guarded when approached by Panorama. Following reassurance that this would be an “expose” we have contributed to the programme with documents leaked to us by brave whistleblowers. We hope against hope that the programme will do what it says on the tin and does indeed go some small way to “uncover the truth.”
Several results should follow on from the airing of this programme, if it is an honest account of Sellafield’s shocking and ongoing ‘legacy’….
No New Nuclear Build – No Moorside.
No more nuclear waste should arrive at Sellafield
If the industry cannot contain the wastes safely above ground what chance below ground? The “implementation of geological disposal” should be scrapped and instead the industry should look at long term interim storage on existing sites.
A public inquiry into “decommissioning” and the resulting dispersal of wastes to the environment
Immediate halt to reprocessing.
Panorama: Sellafield’s Nuclear Safety Failings is broadcast on on BBC1 on Monday at 8.30pm.
If you missed it ..catch up here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07v80s4/panorama-sellafields-nuclear-safety-failingsBBCiplayer
When I heard your voice on the radio talking about the “disgraceful purchase of land, shameful manoeuvring, bullying mafia tactics” I thought Hurrah! Melvyn has read all our many letters to him and is at last holding the nuclear industry to account! It was disappointing to hear that your ire was directed only at the National Trust. The nuclear industry’s land grab is far less benign. They have not only purchased several farms but also sites of important wildlife and historical importance and plan to turn these into another nuclear sacrifice zone, just as the farming hamlet of Sellafield was. No one remembers the “Yeomen of Sellafield” who farmed the land since Neolithic times until the nuclear monster arrived.
There have been many other examples of beautiful old farms having being purchased with public money in the Lake District recently, only to be taken out of farming. In Ennerdale the purchaser was the government owned United Utilities. This is of particular concern as the less privately owned land in Ennerdale there is the more likelihood that the government can return to its diabolic plan of implementing geological disposal of heat generating nuclear wastes. We wrote to you in March of last year about this asking you to object in the House of Lords to the government making Geological dumping of nuclear waste a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
What we said was: “I am sure you would agree that the hard-won planning protections for ancient monuments and special sites of conservation should not be scrapped in Cumbria.
This is what is being proposed right now, with Cumbria specifically in mind.
On wednesday, the House of Lords will be discussing the plan to push through legislation that will remove our right, and the right of Cumbria County Council to object to burying radioactive waste underground, anywhere.
Government hopes to do this by 2016 by adding geological disposal facilities (GDFs) to the list of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP)
NSIP forces through the government’s plans for new nuclear by denying communities the voice usually afforded to them via public inquiries.
The Government hoped the nuclear waste “problem” was going to be solved by communities coming forward to volunteer to take the waste, now that plan has fallen by the wayside the Government wants to impose it, not only by trying to remove Cumbria County Council’s right of veto, but also by designating nuclear waste burial as NSIP.
The protections of planning permission, listed building consent, scheduled monument consent and conservation area consent among others are not required by NSIP.
This already seems to be happening with regard to Moorside (proposed nuclear power station near Sellafield) where 100 (now it is over 300!) “exploratory” boreholes are now being dug on what should be protected land on the Site of Special Scientific Interest flood plain of the River Ehen.
In the same area one wind turbine up to 30m high was turned down on the grounds of wildlife and landscape (while cooling towers or vast installations at sea would cool the toxic heat of Moorside).
This total lack of scrutiny over nuclear developments will escalate should GDFs be added to the already undemocratic NSIP legislation (brought in to accommodate nuclear)
Please join other Cumbrians who love our land and say no to this diabolic plan to turn Cumbria into Europe’s largest nuclear sacrifice.”
The vast tract of land amounting to around 600 hectares including at least 3 farms between Beckermet, Sellafield and Calder Bridge was purchased by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority with taxpayer’s money, we thought as a buffer zone. Instead this land, which is important in so many ways, has been offered (an “undisclosed sum”) to the same companies responsible for Fukushima in order to double the size of Sellafield with new nuclear build. This land the fertile plain between the mountains and the sea is historically the overwintering land of the herdwicks brought down from the fells. Now the herdwicks graze amongst the 300 “exploratory” boreholes and drilling rigs. Very soon, if the nuclear juggernaut continues to be such a taboo subject for the great and the good, the herdwicks will lose their habitat, along with the farmers, the curlew, the natterjack toad, the salmon and so much more…..lost forever.
The Nuclear industry see Cumbria as their own private fiefdom and the plan increasingly appears to do as much raping and pillaging as they can and then when the land is bespoiled and the people poisoned, the industry knows it will get paid to “clean up” the destruction. Give me the National Trust, or even the Border Rievers over the Nuclear Industry anyday!