Author Topic: The Crumbling Case for Britain's Biggest Bombs  (Read 1672 times)

nestopwar

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The Crumbling Case for Britain's Biggest Bombs
« on: February 04, 2013, 07:13:03 AM »
The Crumbling Case for Britain's Biggest
Bombs

Posted: 30/01/2013 15:02
 
A plant which enriches uranium is just about the last place you'd want to hear of having to
shut down because of the 'corrosion' of its structural steelwork. But, following an
investigation by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), it was revealed last week that the
Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston has indeed been hit by a temporary
closure while further investigations into problems at the ageing facility take place.

The people of Aldermaston Village and the surrounding towns in my constituency will tell
you that this isn't the first time safety fears have been raised about their local nuclear
bomb making facility. Over the last few years reports have emerged detailing multiple
safety failures at the plant.
AWE, the consortium which runs the Aldermaston site, is jointly owned by US firms
Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering Group, and the British firm Serco. The group is
scheduled to appear in court this March in relation to a fire in August 2010. On top of this
there are reports that there have been as many as 50 other fires at Aldermaston over the
last two years.
And, as if that's not worrying enough, the Nuclear Information Service has dug up details
of abnormal incidents which had the potential to breach nuclear safety in recent years. The
incidents included areas of the facility being left uncovered by fire alarms and
discrepancies in maintenance records for key equipment.
The old, tired facility at Aldermaston serves as a fitting symbol for our nuclear deterrent as
a whole. The site, which was a spitfire assembly plant as part of the fight against fascism in
the 1930s, has been used for nuclear weapon production for over 60 years. The rusting
steelwork surrounds enriched uranium, powerful enough to kill and maim entire
populations, which will never be used. The decaying bomb factory produces a weapon that
the British population don't want and experts from the military think we don't need.
To keep on producing weapons-grade uranium Aldermaston is clearly going to need some
major investment. At a time of austerity, when families are relying on foodbanks and
benefits are being cut, can we really justify adding to the already astronomical nuclear
weapons bill?
In a recent interview Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said that an
upcoming review of Britain's nuclear deterrent would include seven or eight alternatives to
replacing Trident. One of these options simply must be a non-nuclear option.
The fires and faults at Aldermaston remind us of the continuing dangers posed by nuclear
weapons whilst the cries of nuke supporters are increasingly falling on deaf ears. For the
sake of the residents living near the disintegrating site - some of whom were forced to
evacuate their homes after the fire in August 2010 - and because the atom bomb is a relic
we no longer require, I'm supporting the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in saying:
"Stop fooling with nuclear weapons."
A protest calling on the UK government to scrap Trident will be held at Aldermaston on 1
April.

Follow Keith Taylor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GreenKeithMEP
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 11:44:07 PM by nestopwar »