The devastating impact of the July 2007 floods on Britain’s nuclear weapons factories
Swamped! The devastating impact of the July 2007 floods on Britain’s nuclear weapon’s factories.
Download the full report below. You can also read the redacted version of AWE’s ‘Review Learn and Improve’ assessment of the floods here.
Official documents reveal ‘near miss’ at nuclear weapons factory during 2007 floods – Channel 4 News 7pm Monday October 13th.
Live nuclear work suspended for nine months as a result of damage caused. Scale of flooding covered up by site managers.
A new NIS report, Swamped, looks at the effects of severe flooding at the top secret Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield in July 2007 when live warhead work was suspended for nine months. The water came close to overwhelming the site, resulting in a ‘near miss’ event and causing long-term disruption to nuclear weapons manufacture. Floodwater rose to 2 feet, lifting drain covers and cutting off one facility on the site. 84 buildings were affected and virtually every facility within the nuclear warhead area in the factory experienced water ingress, causing widespread damage to infrastructure.
The NIS report is based on documents released by the Ministry of Defence and the Health and Safety Executive under the Freedom of Information Act which reveal the shocking extent of the flooding and highlight a series of shortfalls in emergency arrangements.
The documents provided to NIS reveal that:
1. Despite the scale of the crisis, a site emergency was not declared during the flooding and the government regulators responsible for the Burghfield site were not informed about the incident until two days afterwards.Radioactive material was still being recovered from buildings at AWE Burghfield nearly three weeks after the floods.
2. Following the floods live nuclear work was suspended for nine months until buildings and emergency systems had been repaired.
3. The site had a history of flooding, but a programme of remediation works had been neglected and emergency plans had overlooked many of the risks associated with flooding.
4. The costs of the damage are likely to run to millions of pounds.
5. Managers decided it was ‘prudent’ not to reveal the impact of the flooding to the public.
Despite the history of flooding at Burghfield, AWE are pushing ahead with a programme of building work intended to develop new facilities at the site which would allow the production of a new generation of warheads to replace Trident nuclear weapons.
Di McDonald, Director of NIS said: “AWE’s own review of the flood reveals that two facilities at Burghfield experienced ‘near miss’ events, and power and alarms to most of the site had to be shut down because of the scale of the flooding.
“Much of the impact of the storm could have been avoided if actions aimed at preventing flooding had been followed up by AWE, raising serious questions about management standards at a site which handles radioactive materials, high explosives, and hazardous chemicals.
“Ironically, the nuclear weapons manufactured at Burghfield can do nothing to protect us against global climate change – by far the most urgent and serious threat we face to our security.”