AWE Site Development Strategy Plan
To date, no Notice of Planning has been received by West Berkshire Council
from AWE regarding the new Strategy Plan, although a site has been cleared
for the new accommodation and conference centre. It is now 15 months since
the first press reports indicated that such an application was imminent.

Recruitment of new scientists
According to its Chairman, AWE expect "a tranche" of experienced specialists
to retire between 2006 and 2008. To counter this loss, a recruitment
campaign is under way and the company would "be delighted" to attract 80
"new blood" scientists. The aim is to increase the present workforce of
3,500 to 3,800 or higher. [80 scientists must require 3.75 additional
support staff each. Ed.]

"We are able to undertake this scale of recruitment and forward planning
at this stage largely as a result of the recent contract extension to
25 years, which enables us to take a long term view of our business needs.

Successor Weapon to Trident
AWE continue to maintain that the recruitment campaign should not be
interpreted as a preparation for building a successor weapon to Trident.
Neither is it to be seen as an indication that the Government has asked for
a new weapon to be developed. Work with US scientists is said to be of a
"generic nature". "It is not weapon specific ­ for example, we have
collaborated with the US in a dynamic experiment designed to explore the
properties of plutonium." 1 [Ed. emphasis]

AWE Strategy Plan web pages can be found at:
1. Development to support our Science Programme

2. Production Requirements

3. Buildings

AWE School 'Ambassadors'
The long term recruitment policy is to woo school children by sending 75
staff into schools as 'AWE science ambassadors". "The initiative gives
ambassadors the opportunity ……to share their enthusiasm for the work that
they do." Primary as well as secondary children are targeted, "to promote
the teaching of science to pass on a fascination for the wonders of
science." But there is no ambiguity about the company's objectives: the
scheme aims to "highlight the opportunities that a career in these
disciplines has to offer".(2)

In another AWE well established scheme, local schools are given grants
annually and invited to 'bid' for a large lump sum cash prize for a science
project. Other prizes of between £1,000 and £200 are donated and science
equipment is loaned to schools. West Berkshire County Council has awarded
AWE a Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) Award for its
contribution to local schools. AWE considers itself "the leading company in
the area for promoting the teaching of science and technology." (2)

The Pangbourne Pipeline (PP)
The PP must close in 2005 to meet the terms of the Environment Agency (EA)
discharge Authorisation granted in 2001. An alternative Evaporation Plant is
now under construction but if it is not ready on schedule, the EA say that
contingency plans to deal with the waste must be put in place. The new
system will filtered out plutonium and uranium before evaporation, and the
condensed liquid, which still contains tritium, will be discharged to the
sewage works at Silchester in batches and each batch monitored before
discharge. This is intended to avoid discharges into the air. Plutonium and
uranium discharges from AWE are not at present detectable above background
levels. (3)

Tritium Waste
The EA refused AWE permission in 2001 for a one-off huge discharge of
Tritium to the River Thames. This led to the better solution of using the
tritiated water for mixing the grout needed for solidifying plutonium
contaminated sludges for safe storage. Much of the tritium still being
discharged by AWE comes from the continuous ventilation of old facilities
awaiting decommissioning. (3)

Discharge Authorisation
The existing discharge authorisation allows for an increase in previous
discharges to accommodate decommissioning work. In practice decommissioning
has not led to the expected increase and it is likely that when the next
authorisation is granted in 2006, the limits will be reduced. Consultation
about the next discharge authorisation will begin in 2004. This will not be
on the same scale as the previous consultation process that led to the
judicial review (3) see

1. AWE Local Liaison Committee Minutes 5th June 2003
(note the last Minutes published on the AWE website are dated 28/11/02)
2. AWE Today, June 2003
3. Notes on NAG discussion meeting with Darren Baker of the Environment
Agency held on 2 Sept. 2003.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. More information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.