May 2007 Update

Nuclear Information Service

30 Westwood Road
Southampton SO17 1DN Britain

tel/fax: +44 (0)2380 554434  m: 07880 557035


NIS UPDATE                                                   20th May 2007

Nuclear Warhead Convoy Lost in Nottingham Suburbs

At about 5.00 a.m. on Thursday 10th May, a nuclear warhead convoy using a new route up the M1 from AWE Burghfield to RNAD Coulport in Scotland, took Exit J25 for Nottingham in search of Chetwynd Barracks. The convoy had already stopped once at MOD Bicester for a ‘comfort break’ – but that was 3 hours previously at 2a.m. At this point, possibly through tiredness or confusion, the lead driver turned left towards Derby by mistake and everyone followed – warhead carriers and all. Nukewatcher Tony Jillings was monitoring the convoy and his report speaks for itself:

“Now the bizarre part:- the convoy left the M1 at J25 which signs on the motorway indicated was closed, but it wasn't. Then they drove up and down the A52 (Derby to Nottingham Road) several times, initially turning left to the west, instead of right to the barracks, which were about 3 miles east of the M1.  There were road works at the junction, which may have confused matters, but the drivers gave the appearance of being lost because, as I followed the support convoy on the duel carriageway, we met the load carriers coming the other way!

At the final westerly A52 roundabout the support convoy of a breakdown truck, coach and large mobile emergency unit with its trailer, took an obviously wrong turn into a residential area and stopped for a few minutes, presumably realising their mistake and wondering what to do.  They then took about 10 minutes to execute turns with great difficulty, using side streets, so that they could return to the roundabout. They were very flustered with personnel running about – and pretty embarrassed too.”

Eventually, the whole convoy made it into Chetwynd Barracks for a well-earned rest before setting off again on the 21hour journey to Scotland amid political controversy north of the border.

Report from Scotland
Activists expressed their anger that the Ministry of Defence had transported nuclear warheads along the Edinburgh Bypass just the day after the new Parliament was sworn in. Citizens Weapons Inspectors from the Nukewatch network tracked the warhead convoy from the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Burghfield (50 miles west of London) to RNAD Coulport (35 miles north-west of Glasgow).

The new Parliament was only sworn in the day before – technically they hadn’t even finished their first meeting. When they do start considering business, one thing on their Agenda will be two Bills left over from the previous Parliament, both aimed at keeping these Weapons of Mass Destruction off Scottish roads.  Yet the MoD chose, for the first time in many years, to send a nuclear convoy through Edinburgh. They must have been trying to send a message to the new Parliament – it looks to me like the message is one of arrogance and contempt for Scotland.                                                             

             Adam Conway, Helensburgh.Nukewatch Inspector

"This Parliament has a golden opportunity to convert the Scottish people's widespread opposition to nuclear weapons into the practical and concrete removal of Trident from Scotland" .         

            Anna-Linnea Rundberg, Helensburgh.Nukewatch Inspector


Above: One of several large convoy support vehicles backs into a residential street to retrace its steps at 05.00 on 10th May 2007 near the A52 to Derby.

AWE Laser stability problem

AWE’s Managing Director Don Cook told the Local Liaison Committee Meeting in March that the stability of the new weapons materials testing laser facility being built near the A340 was a problem. The12 strong laser matrix intended to be able to hit the equivalent of a 10p coin from 20 kilometres. But vibrations from traffic, wind and tree roots could cause possible problems, although Dr. Cook felt that ground tremors were not a significant problem in this area. The construction design includes deeply bored supports, some in secondary protective sleeves to try to overcome vibration effects. It may turn out that tests can only be done by closing the main road on a windless day (or night) when trees are dormant!


Compensation Scheme for Radiation Workers

The 1982 Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases (CSRLD) is advertised in the May 2007 edition of ‘AWE Today’. AWE joined the scheme in 1993 and workers who have an illness that could have been caused through occupational exposure to ionising radiation can claim compensation based on the risks of radiation causing cancer or an eye cataract.



AWE Schools Liaison Scheme                                                                                            

Pupils are never too young to be targeted for AWE public relations exercises. Four to nine year-olds at schools in Basingstoke and Bramley have had visits from AWE with their ‘Safety First Robot’ to warn of the dangers associated with fireworks! The irony of AWE lecturing children on the dangers of explosives would be amusing if the subliminal message, that AWE is a normal and socially useful industry, was not corrupting young minds. Ninety schools now accept AWE visits and gifts of equipment and funds. In March, AWE gave Kennet School in Thatcham £1,800 to buy software for students with dyslexia.  

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