Stop Even More Building at Aldermaston!

Recent Building at Aldermaston

Not happy about even  more of your money being wasted on Trident at Aldermaston, with attendant dangers to the local populace.  Let your objections be known by signing a standard letter to Berkshire County Council – you can modify if you like, or sign as is.  It still counts:  quick and easy.

http://www.cnd.iparl.com/lobby/47

Information about the safety and environmental risks posed by a newnuclear weapons research facility which is to be built at the AtomicWeapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston should be released to thepublic, according to the Nuclear Information Service (NIS).

The research group is concerned that excessive secrecy surroundsproposals to build ‘Project Hydrus’, a new hydrodynamics research facility at AWE Aldermaston, where warheads for the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system are manufactured. A planning application for thenew facility was submitted to West Berkshire Council last month.

Key information about Project Hydrus, its impacts, and the risks itposes has been withheld from the public by the Ministry of Defence,which claims that releasing such information into the public domainwould be “contrary to the interests of national defence”.

NIS has published a detailed briefing about the planned new facility(attached) and has posted a copy of the MoD’s justification forwithholding the information, released under the Freedom of InformationAct, on the NIS website.

Lack of information about the impacts means that the planning committeeand the public must rely entirely on the judgement of AWE andgovernment regulatory agencies to decide whether risks posed by the newfacility are acceptable and safeguards for protecting the public are adequate.  The new facility will pose a number of environmental and safety risks which are not addressed in the Defence Exempt Environmental Assessment:

  • Radioactive plutonium will be used in some of the tests conducted inthe facility, and so radioactively contaminated wastes will begenerated, which will be stored on site pending development of a National Repository for the UK’s radioactive waste.
  • Explosives will also be handled and detonated as an integral part ofthe experimental programme.- X-ray radiation from the high powered x-ray machines used to recordimages during experiments poses a potential hazard to human health.
  • The costs  have not been disclosed by the Ministry of Defence, but are certain to amount to hundreds of millions of pounds, at a time when the country faces great economic difficulties.  Anew high-powered hydrodynamics facility at the USA’s Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico eventually cost more than $US 1 billion to construct and commission.

Peter Burt, Director of the Nuclear Information Service, said: “TheMinistry of Defence’s view that people have no right to know about thehazards which they face from a major nuclear establishment is what wewould expect to hear from a creaky old Soviet dictatorship, and not a modern democratic government.

“Clearly Project Hydrus is far more than a replacement for AWE’scurrent hydrodynamics facilities. Alongside the Orion high powered laser and new supercomputing facilities, Project Hydrus will play a core role in AWE’s warhead research programme and would be vital in the design of any new nuclear warhead.”

Information about the safety and environmental risks posed by a new

nuclear weapons research facility which is to be built at the Atomic

Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston should be released to the

public, according to the Nuclear Information Service (NIS).

The research group is concerned that excessive secrecy surrounds

proposals to build ‘Project Hydrus’, a new hydrodynamics research

facility at AWE Aldermaston, where warheads for the UK’s Trident

nuclear weapons system are manufactured. A planning application for the

new facility was submitted to West Berkshire Council last month.

Key information about Project Hydrus, its impacts, and the risks it

poses has been withheld from the public by the Ministry of Defence,

which claims that releasing such information into the public domain

would be “contrary to the interests of national defence”.

NIS has published a detailed briefing about the planned new facility

(attached) and has posted a copy of the MoD’s justification for

withholding the information, released under the Freedom of Information

Act, on the NIS website.

Lack of information about the impacts means that the planning committee

and the public must rely entirely on the judgement of AWE and

government regulatory agencies to decide whether risks posed by the new

facility are acceptable and safeguards for protecting the public are adequate.

The new facility will pose a number of environmental and safety risks

which are not addressed in the Defence Exempt Environmental Assessment:

– Radioactive plutonium will be used in some of the tests conducted in

the facility, and so radioactively contaminated wastes will be

generated, which will be stored on site pending development of a

National Repository for the UK’s radioactive waste.

– Explosives will also be handled and detonated as an integral part of

the experimental programme.

– X-ray radiation from the high powered x-ray machines used to record

images during experiments poses a potential hazard to human health.

– Hydrodynamic experiments generate noise and vibration. AWE is

concerned that disclosure of specific information on noise and

vibration signatures could be used to help enemies gain an

understanding about warhead configurations.

– Construction traffic will have an impact in the local area,

particularly upon Aldermaston village.

Although the costs of Project Hydrus have not been disclosed by the

Ministry of Defence, they are certain to amount to hundreds of millions

of pounds. Anew high-powered hydrodynamics facility at the USA’s Los

Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in New Mexico eventually cost more

than $US 1 billion to construct and commission.

NIS considers that the multi-million pound costs of building a new

hydrodynamics research facility at Aldermaston cannot be justified at

the current time, when deep cuts in public spending planned over the

next few years will correspond with the construction period for Project

Hydrus.

Peter Burt, Director of the Nuclear Information Service, said: “The

Ministry of Defence’s view that people have no right to know about the

hazards which they face from a major nuclear establishment is what we

would expect to hear from a creaky old Soviet dictatorship, and not a

modern democratic government.

“It is entirely reasonable for the public to ask what steps are being

taken to guarantee their safety, and information about the risks posed

by Project Hydrus should be published before the development is given

the go-ahead.

“West Berkshire Council does not have to grant planning permission in

the absence of adequate information about the impacts of the facility,

and the planning committee should insist that AWE and the Ministry of

Defence operate to the same standards of disclosure as any other developer.

“Clearly Project Hydrus is far more than a replacement for AWE’s

current hydrodynamics facilities. Alongside the Orion high powered

laser and new supercomputing facilities, Project Hydrus will play a

core role in AWE’s warhead research programme and would be vital in the

design of any new nuclear warhead.”

For more information please contact Peter Burt on 0118 958 8281 or

07790 409339, and visit the Nuclear Information Service website at

http://nuclearinfo.org Regular updates on Twitter:

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