The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the motion passed by Stirling Council that condemns the transportation of nuclear weapons on long road convoys through the city and neighbouring towns. (1) NFLA would be very happy to work with Stirling Council and all other councils who want to see such convoys reduced and made safe.
The Stirling Council motion arises from a report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN-UK) that highlighted a long list of safety incidents involving nuclear weapon road convoys, and various scenarios which suggest a much more serious accident or incident is possible and being prepared for. (2) NFLA cooperated with and welcomed the ICAN-UK report. (3)
The components of nuclear weapons are regularly transported by road from the Atomic Weapon Establishments in Aldermaston and Burghfield in West Berkshire up to the naval bases at Coulport and Faslane for maintenance and repair. The convoys pass by many large centres of population such as Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Preston, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham and Oxford.
The key points of the ICAN-UK report were:
- Nuclear weapon convoys are dogged by pressures that could increase accident risk, particularly the chronic shortage of skilled nuclear engineers that could threaten overall safety.
- The demands of nuclear secrecy and security could compromise safety as local authorities and fire services are not forewarned about convoy movements and are unforthcoming about their emergency plans.
- Materials for nuclear weapons are driven through or flown over 122 local councils in the UK, close to many densely-populated areas, according to Ministry of Defence data.
- There are a series of credible accident scenarios that could trigger fires, explosions and the breach of bomb containment, leading to the risk of a radiation leak.
- Evidence from a Ministry of Defence report suggests that in extreme circumstances an accident could trigger a nuclear reaction, which may deliver potentially lethal doses of radiation.
- In such a scenario, radiation contamination could spread over at least 10 kilometres, requiring the evacuation of thousands of people.
- The public or local authorities get no warning of such convoy movements and ‘have never agreed to accept the dangers’.
The Stirling Council motion called on these convoys not to pass through the city or neighbouring towns and declared the area as a ‘nuclear free zone’. NFLA welcomes this motion and encourages the Council to join with it on a joint campaign to highlight the risks of these convoys. This campaign also calls on the Ministry of Defence to inform local authority emergency planning officers when such convoys go through their area so as to ensure relevant staff are available in case of an accident or malicious incident.
NFLA Scotland Convener Councillor Bill Butler said:
I was pleased to hear that Stirling Council has passed a motion condemning the movement of nuclear weapons by road through the city and neighbouring towns. It is also excellent news that the Council motion called for Stirling to be a ‘nuclear free zone’. NFLA Scotland has been consistently raising concerns over the risks and dangers of 25-vehicle long nuclear weapon convoys by road for many years.
Stirling councillors are right to be concerned about these convoys and NFLA would be very happy to work with them on a joint campaign to challenge the Ministry of Defence to improve safety and reduce the number of such convoys going over our roads at regular intervals. There has to be a better way to do this, though obviously the best way is to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction and not look to construct new Trident missiles based in Scotland.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244 or 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) Stirling News, 11th October 2016 http://www.stirlingnews.co.uk/news/14794842.Stirling_councillors_pass_motion_against_nuclear_weapons_convoys/
(2) ICAN-UK report, ‘Nukes of Hazard – the nuclear bomb convoys on our roads’, 21st September 2016 http://nukesofhazard.gn.apc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/NoH_Report_Final.pdf. The report can also be found on the NFLA website https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/NoH_Report_Final.pdf. A short film of the issues concerned can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz5qBo4AczE
(3) NFLA Media Release, 22nd September 2016