About Special Nuclear Material convoys

These small convoys transport the nuclear materials used in Britain's nuclear weapons programme. Convoys travel between both military and civilian sites and travel with a Ministry of Defence Police escort.

You can read annual statistics about warhead movements by visiting the Nukewatch pages.

A Special Nuclear Materials convoy transporting radioactive materials to AWE through Aldermaston village at 19:15 on 15 December 2000.

2000 was the first year that plutonium from decommissioned warheads has been transported to BNFL Sellafield where it enters the safeguards regime and is subject to international inspection transportation of Plutonium took place under international safeguards, as announced in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. Loaded convoys went from AWE to BNFL in May and September. Another first, well, since1997, was a loaded convoy from AWE to Coulport in October. Unexpectedly, there have been no convoys to BNFL Chapelcross to collect Tritium this year, as far as we know.

In January one of three convoys to RAF Brize Norton collected materials sent from the USA. Six SNM convoys went to RRN Derby with HEU and three to AEATech Harwell carrying weapons materials in both directions. Eight convoys took warheads from Aldermaston to AWE Burghfield for assembly, while 21 returned warheads from Burghfield to Aldermaston for decommissioning.

These and other materials transports continue to give rise to safety concerns as they travel at up to 70 mph on very busy motorways. Although a larger escort now provides some protection, its function is one of security rather than safety.

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