A recent post asked if the public is aware of the nuclear hazard on Britain’s roads and railways. An additional cause for concern came to light earlier this year about the transport of nuclear materials .
In January, MP Paul Flynn asked Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Defence for information about the hazard warnings on the transport of radioactive materials to the Ministry of Defence in January. MPs wanted to know whether the practice of displaying radioactive materials hazard warning signs on vehicles carrying special nuclear materials (see sign in picture above) would continue following the retirement from service of High Security Vehicles.
Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, answered this Parliamentary question: “It is not current Ministry of Defence policy to display radioactive material hazard signs on the Truck Cargo Heavy Duty (TCHD) Mk3 when transporting special nuclear materials. Adequate safety arrangements, as required by legislation, are in place to ensure the necessary information is available to emergency services in the event of an incident”.
Previously, MoD vehicles transporting military nuclear materials or warheads carried hazard warning signs when transporting radioactive cargoes.
The NGO Nukewatch and other campaigners claim that the department is placing nuclear secrecy before the protection of public safety.
They report that further questions from the Scottish National Party’s Owen Thompson have revealed that a decision to cease displaying radioactive material hazard warning signs on vehicles carrying special nuclear materials was made by the Defence Equipment and Support Organisation in July 2011.
Jane Tallents of Nukewatch warned that under the new arrangements public safety was taking second place to secrecy: “Although the Ministry of Defence say they inform police when nuclear convoys are on the road, they have repeatedly refused to tell fire services, the ambulance service, or local council emergency planners about convoy movements. If one of these convoys is involved in an accident, would fire-fighters arriving first on the scene have to wait until police turned up to find out that they were dealing with a highly hazardous radioactive cargo rather than a normal road traffic accident? Although some members of the convoy crew are trained as medics and fire-fighters, their priority is looking after the convoy and its weapons, not the public.
She warned that the Ministry of Defence is putting secrecy about its nuclear weapons before the safety of the general public, adding: “That can never be right”.
For more information about the convoys, including a video, see www.nukewatch.org.uk.