| Press release |
Capenhurst – the Facts
A pamphlet that takes a critical look at URENCO’s Capenhurst uranium enrichment plant in Cheshire has been published by the Close Capenhurst Campaign.
Capenhurst – the Facts is the first publication of its kind. The report includes a description of URENCO’s activities, transport of material, accidents that have occurred, the tailings plant that will store depleted uranium hexafluoride for years to come, and storage of submarine reactors.
Although the Capenhurst uranium enrichment plant plays a key part in the nuclear cycle, its functions – and indeed its existence – have been largely unknown to the general public.
The 20-page pamphlet is available for £2 from
It can also be read online.
“Without a doubt, there are very real concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding Capenhurst’s activities – the adequacy of nuclear safeguards at Capenhurst, environmental and public health risks associated with Capenhurst’s routine operations, as well as incidents and accidents associated with Capenhurst’s management of uranium hexafluoride.”
Dr Paul Dorfman The Energy Institute University College London
“The uranium hexafluoride (UF6) containers in your photos are of the type 48Y which is designated as a Type B cask that is required to sustain immersion in a fire of 800°C for 30 minutes – this test condition is not that particularly onerous, neither in temperature nor duration of the immersing fire.”
John Large (in an email to Radiation Free Lakeland) John Large was the Leading independent analyst of safety and security in the nuclear industry up until the time of his death, aged 75, from a heart attack in 2018
Capenhurst, The Facts is “quite wonderful, congratulations” Helen Caldicott Founding President of Physicians for Social Responsibility – The umbrella organisation International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985
The Author Lowana Veal T: 00354 5577045, 00354 6991522.
Close Capenhurst T 0151 7060575. M. 07951965499
Publisher – Wildart Books. 015395 63671
The DRS [ Direct Rail Services ] Open Day attracts many thousands of train spotters each year.
This year there will be a special train spotters day trip to the event.
They will be in carriages hauled by a DRS Class 88 engine from Euston to Crewe, and a DRS Class 68 engine on the return journey.
These are the exact same engines which haul radioactive waste flasks to Sellafield.
Our aim is to inform all those who attend this DRS Open Day event about the nature of these high level nukiller waste trains.
What we need are more activists to come help us leaflet the event between 10.30, & 15,30. coming this Saturday – July 21st
There are two important protest events take place during June & July.
June 24th – Capenhurst
We will be going back to Capenhurst to read out the 1978 URENCO Declaration, together with an updated version, which will reflect the damage which currently being done by URENCO.
There will be some activists who were at the 1978 demonstration to read out these declaration.
The reading will start at 13.00.
July 21st – Crewe
Once again we will be back to the DRS [ Direct Rail Service ] open day at their Gresty Bridge depot in Crewe.
DRS are the railway company which transport highly radioactice nukiller waste to Sellafield.
This will be our 5th demonstration and leafleting session at a DRS open day event.
‘Bring the family along for a fun day out as we invite you to have a look behind the scenes’.
We will be telling a very different story.
The leafleting session will last from 10.30 to 15.30.
The Depot is a 10 minute walk from Crewe station.
Please email us to know if you can attend either of these events.
As ever there is a lot of campaigning work which needs to be done.
Yet much of this work is very dependent upon putting a lot of time, and effort, in to constantly monitoring what goes on at the various radioactive fuel plants.
It is not the most glamorous type of campaigning work, but it is an essential activity.
This issue of Countering Capenhurst contains some of the various documents which we have been looking at of late.
At some stage in the future we will combine a lot of this information.
After which we might be better able to estimate just how much Depleted Uranium Hexafloride is still to be found at Capenhurst.
That’s in contrast to all of the guestimations which we have been able to do so far.
After that we will try to put together an estimation of just how long it will take URENCO to process it all in their new tailings plants. Though it will not be possible to do until we have more figures to work with.
Another URENCO Contract Comes To Light.
Finding out just which contracts URENCO has is not an easy thing to achieve.
So we found the following news story of interest.
The key text in this news story being: –
‘ Recently, Hansen’s production fuels team unwound the last of four outstanding nuclear fuel agreements with URENCO, a global player in the nuclear industry that was asking OPPD for a sizable payday.
Hansen said earlier this week that URENCO argued OPPD owed “on the order of $66 million” as outlined in a contract between the two parties.
OPPD refuted the assertion, disassembled nuclear fuel that was not used or needed at Fort Calhoun and sold it back to URENCO, netting about $15 million in the process.’
Not seeing the flasks because of the trees.
This is a quote from the current issue of the Railway Magazine – November 2017.
It is to be found under Operations Track Record – DRS.
‘ The RM carries regular reports regarding the numerous flask trains which run around the country.
One correspondent reported a visit made to Dungeness branch on September 19 when class 68 Nos 68003 + 68018 arrived with a train, with the class 68s having bodyside damage caused by trees, buckthorn, and brambles growing along the branch.’
We make no comment upon this report.
On October 10th it was the 60th anniversary of the Windscale fire.
We joined with Radiation Free Lakeland to mark this event at both the Spriingfields and Sellafield sites.
While we continue to keep leafleting outside of Warrington station on a regular basis.
Warrington is just one of the many railway stations through which highly radioactive used fuel rods are taken to Sellafield.
If you want to take part in any of these leafleting sessions, or hold one at your local station where these waste trains go through, then please get in contact with us.
Further Research & Further Reading
Public Health England
This is one of the most interesting documents which has been published this year.
Amongst other things this document give a total of the amount of radioactive materials which originate at the various nukiller plants.
What’s of particular interest is amount of waste which being transported by road.
‘Taking into account that the Magnox data provided was for a six month period, the total number of packages currently transported over a year is estimated to be about 9,200 by road and 700 by rail.’
This is broken down in to tables such of the following: –
‘ Table : Summary of the consignments (C) and packages (P) containing radioactive waste transported by road and rail to and from LLWRbetween April 2014 and March 2015.’
Yet there are still major information gaps in these figures.
Such as within the following:
‘Information on movements of radioactive material was also obtained from a metal recycling facility which treats radioactively contaminated metal. Surface contaminated metal is treated at this UK site but activated metal is sent to an overseas facility for treatment. In 2014, 131 consignments containing 950 packages were made from the metal recycling company. About 20% of the total consignments were to UK air and sea ports and were subsequently shipped overseas.
There is no indication of which companies or ports these might be.
While much of the information in this document uses the word Estimated.
For example while referring to just how radioactive expossure the transport workers receive per year.
Thus it lists the following: –
– Estimated doses due to transport during the nuclear fuel cycle.
– Estimated doses due to transport during the uranium enrichment process.
– Estimated doses due to transport of radioactive material from the nuclear fuel reprocessing facility.
– Estimated doses due to transport of low level radioactive waste for recycling, storage and disposal.
While this quote says it all: –
‘During a visit to the fuel fabrication facility at Springfields it was not possible to take dose rate measurements around a loaded vehicle as none were available. It has therefore not been possible to estimate doses to workers loading or unloading vehicles or doses to drivers transporting the different fuel types.‘
This document does contain a lot of very useful information, but it can not be defined as one of the most comprenensive publications on the subject.
Some Forthcoming Events.
Saturday December 2nd.
We will be running a stall at the
On March 11th it will be 7 years since the start of the ongoing disaster at Fukushima.
Kick nuclear will be marking this date with a series of events.
In the meanwhile the regular weekly picket of the Japanese embassey & the London TEPCO offices continues to be held every friday.
We will also be back at the DRS [ Direct Rail Service ] open day at their Gresty Bridge depot in Crewe next July.
More details on this when we have the exact date this will take place.
This is a special issue of Countering Capenhurst.
Finding out just what goes on at Capenhurst is very difficult to do, and the same applies to all of the URENCO plants.
What follows is just a summary of what we have managed to find out about the plant of late, and something about which countries URENCO has been trading with.
A question of Hex
We continue to keep asking about just what is going on at Capenhurst, with questions such as:-
Yet there is an aspect of this which very few people have ever heard about.
There is a clue to it within the following Review by HM Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
‘UCL has an ongoing contract, up for renewal in 2007, with Technabexport of Russia, which takes ex UCL tails cylinders and re-enriches the material to low enrichment product and/or pseudo natural. The product is sold on and the pseudo natural is re-fed or sold on. The operation of this contract is maintaining a steady state of net tails stocks on Capenhurst site.’
That’s something which URENCO has kept very quiet about.
We recently came upon a German BREMISCHE BÜRGERSCHAFT report which listed the movement of uranium through the port of Bremin.
This included uranium being sent from Urenco to Russia.
Two of the latest of these reports are
The importance of these reports is that they give some clues as to just which companies and countries URENCO is traiding with.
Europe’s radioactive secret
Then we came upon the following report which was published in 2005, and which has not been followed up on.
How EDF and European nuclear utilities are dumping nuclear waste in the Russian Federation
‘ This report summarises the secretive attempts of the European nuclear industry to ‘solve’ one of their largest waste problems, by exporting and dumping tens of thousands of tonnes of uranium wastes in Siberia, in the Russian Federation.’
This last document is very worrying indeed.
The information contained in this document are very technical in nature.
So rather than give an analysis of what is in this document we will just give the following summary from this report.
‘ Since 1996, depleted uranium tails from West European enrichers Urenco and Eurodif are being sent to Russia for re-enrichment. In Russia, the imported tails are, instead of natural uranium, fed into surplus enrichment cascades. The product obtained from re-enrichment is mostly natural-equivalent uranium plus some reactor-grade low-enriched uranium.
These products are sent back to Urenco and Eurodif, while the secondary tails generated remain in Russia,where they are re-enriched further to obtain morenatural-equivalent uranium and/or slightly enriched uranium. The latter is then used as blendstock for the downblending of surplus highly-enriched weapons-grade uranium into reactor-grade low-enriched uranium. The ultimate tails left, still comprising at least two thirds of the amount imported, remain in Russia with unknown fate.’
‘Details on the re-enrichment business, though it is currently taking place at large scale, are hardly obtainable. In Russia, all related information is confidential; and, the West-European enrichment companies involved, Urenco and Eurodif, are not very communicative, to put it politely. In its recent annual reports, Urenco not even discloses its annual production figure, nor the capacity break down for its facilities, not to speak about other data of interest, such as amount and assays of tails produced.’
We will continue to keep searching for more information on these contacts.
Countering Capenhurst – Issue 13 – August 2017
Five Years On.
On August 8th it was five years since the start of the weekly Kick Nuclear and JAN UK vigil outside of the Japanese Embassy.
This is not something to celebrate, as there will be nothing to celebrate until there are no more nukiller reactors operating in Japan.
In the meanwhile, if anyone is in London on a Friday morning, then they should come join in this ongoing protest.
New Nukiller Waste Train leaflet
We have just published a new leaflet about the transport of high lever nukiller waste by DRS [Direct Rail Services].
It can be distributed outside of any of the railway stations where used atomic fuel rods are taken through.
The leaflet is entitled Beware.
If you wish to take a part in the campaign to stop this waste being taken through our towns and city,
Not a good investment.
It looks like the money markets are now getting the message that there is no money to be made in the nukiller industry.
Here is what has been happening with just three of these companies of late.
It will be making an 86% loss on these shares.
In march we read that:-
While in July we read: –
‘French state-controlled utility EDF said its first-half 2017 core earnings dropped nearly 22 percent to 6.99 billion euros ($8.17 billion) as two nuclear plants remained closed and competition weighed on retail electricity prices.’
Some 10 years ago EDF shares were valued at around 83 Euro.
They are now worth just 8.75 Euro.
The Golden Question.
There are two major questions which we keep asking.
Just which nukiller power companies has both Urenco and Toshiba Westinghouse got contracts with?
Just where does the enriched Uranium and Fuel rods produced at Springfields go to ?
All we ever get to read are a few reports which give us just a hint of where that might be.
Thus we welcome any scraps of information which will help us to answer these questions.
Tracking just where Uranium from Capenhurst is transported to, or which ports it goes through is very difficult to ascertain.
We do however know something about when it has done through the German port of Bremen, thanks to a series of reports which have been produced by the BREMISCHE BÜRGERSCHAFT.
Here is a link to just two of these reports.
This covers the period from 2005 to 2010These are well worth reading as they show just how much nukiller material is being transported by sea.
What Goes on at Springfields ?
Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Facilities.
Uranium Enrichment Facilities.
You can find out more on the World Nuclear Fuel Facilities website.
For more information see the WISE website – Springfields Fuels Ltd nuclear fuel fabrication plant
Springfiels is owned by Westinghouse, which a part of Toshiba.
Cameco is one of the companies which has uses the Springfields plant via a 10 year contract.
To quote the company website: –
‘The agreement allows Cameco to increase uranium hexafluoride (UF6) sales and utilize excess capacity at its Blind River refinery in Ontario. Under the agreement, Springfields Fuels Ltd. can process up to 5 million kgU of uranium trioxide (UO3) from Blind River to UF6. Cameco markets UF6from Springfields to its customers around the world.’
Springfields link to Capenhurst is a key facility in the Nukiller Power cycle.
So we will be doing a lot more campaigning work about both of these plants from now on.
Windscale in October
We will be joining with Radiation Free Lakeland and other groups in the Working Alliance with a series of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the fire.
The full details will be published in future issues of Closing Capenhurst.
DRS Open Day Protest
DRS [ Direct Rail Services ] will be holding there annual open day at their Kingmoor depot in Carlisle, on Saturday 22nd July 2017.
We will be at holding another protest leafleting session on the day from 10.30. to 14.30 .
This event is being organised by CCC in cooperation with Radiation Free Lakeland as a part of Working Alliance.
DRS Official and Open Day Online Videos.
In order to give activists an idea of what goes on during these events we have produced a list of youtube clips.
This is just a small selection of some of these videos, from which you will get an idea of how many train spotters attend these events, and just what DRS put on show.
The important thing to keep in mind is that these video clips are filmed by train spotters for the enjoyment of train spotters.
Official DRS Videos
Direct Rail Services Corporate Video 2013
In this video you can see the full range of activites the company gets up to.
DRS Openday 2013
This issue of Countering Capenhurst is very much an update one, as we are working on events which will be taking place later on in the year.
A full list of these events and new resource lists will be published within the next few weeks.
What Now and What Next ?
There has been a lot of news stories of last about Toshiba / Westinghouse, & EDF having a lot of financial problems. How this will effect new build at Moorside and Hinckley is very much of an open question.
Rather that duplicate these news stories we would recommend you look at the following websites.
Clearing the submarine site.
It looks like the Capenhurst site is now being cleared for the building to hold all of the old 27 submarine waste
Here is what proves it: –
First of all on Google Earth
You can see a JCB moving one of the hex drums in it, and just where the other depleted Uranium Hex drums used to be.
Now look at map on PP 30 of this document.
Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP)
Consultation Document on the Site for Interim Storage of Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste. 14th November 2014
It’s one & the same location.
Amongst the many news stories which have been speculating about Brexit we can upon the following one:-
Included in this news story Is this gem of information: –
‘Companies like Urenco face a potentially “high impact” from Brexit, Moody’s Investors Service wrote in a May 22 note saying that the overall credit impact from leaving the EU will be modest. Urenco, which has 2.1 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) of outstanding debt is rated Baa1, two grades above junk by Moody’s.’
Nuclear flasks failed safety test.
Worries about the issue of Uranium Hex are nothing new.
It reported that: –
‘ Flasks used by British Nuclear Fuels to transport dangerous radioactive material can resist fire for less than three minutes ‘ … … …
‘ The tests by France’s nuclear safety agency showed that the flasks would rupture within 175 seconds in a fire.
The flasks are used to transport 20,000 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride or “hex” – the raw material to make fuel for nuclear power stations – around the world every year, much of it for BNFL. Hex is particularly dangerous because as well as being radioactive it reacts with air to produce hydrofluoric acid, a gas which destroys the lungs.’ … … …
‘BNFL confirmed yesterday that it used 48Y containers for shipping hex in Britain and abroad. It was transported from Springfields to Capenhurst near Chester for enrichment, as well as to enrichment plants in Russia, the US, France, Germany and Holland.’
What we would like to know is just how many of these flasks are still in use to store depleted uranium hex at Capenhurst.
Now read this: –
We have put together the following short list of youtube film clips which you might to watch, as they show the way the nukiller industry has been viewed over the last 60 years.
Cumberland, Preston & Cheshire.
Nuclear criticality training film, UKAEA, 1969.
Windscale and Egremont, Cumberland
Video showing the transportation of cylinders to Urenco
Protest outside of the URENCO Almelo site in the Netherlands June 7th 2012
First of all a little history.
The European Union Referendum Act 2015 stated that it was consultative in nature. There was no reference to this including the UK withdrawing from EURATOM.
Now the government of the Unelected UK prime minister Mrs May states that Brexit will include Britain withdrawing from Euratom. This might have some very unforeseen consequences.
URENCO is a jointly owned Dutch, German, and UK uranium enrichment company, with plants in each of these countries.
Under Which Regulatory Authority ?
There is at present a tailings plant being built at Capenhurst, which will convert all the Depleted Uranium Hexachloride [ Hex ] stored there in to a much safer form. This plant will not start operating until at least 2020.
The plan is that once all the Hex at Capenhurst has been converted, then all the Hex at Almelo be treated next.
The Hex currently being stored at Almelo will be transported by sea, as it banned from going through the Channel tunnel.
Thus the treatment and transportation of this Almelo Hex might then come under at least three separate sets of Regulatory Authorities. This includes those which regulate the shipping regulations,
Nowhere has there been any thought given to just which safety bodies will take a overview about about how this takes place.
Neither has any thought been given as to what might happen if the long expected sale of URENCO takes place.
How Much Hex ?
Uranium Hexafluoride is highly toxic, radioactive, corrosive to most metals, and reacts violently with water.
The best answer we have received is ‘ A vast Quantity’,which is also the only way we have been able to describe it.
We just don’t know.
Although one recent article stated that it is some 60,000 tonnes.
This is exactly what we want to know.
1. How many containers of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride are stored at the Capenhurst site ?
2. What is the total mass of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride which each of the containers at Capenhurst can hold ?
3. What is the total mass of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride which is stored at the Capenhurst site ?
4. How much of the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride will the new tailing plant at Capenhurst be able to process each hour ?
We recently submitted these questions to the Office of Nuclear Regulation as a Freedom of Information request.
This is the response which we received from them: –
‘We receive updates (a month in arrears from relevant UK dutyholders) on the amounts of material held on sites that are under our Nuclear Safeguards regime. Whilst we hold some of the data you require, we unfortunately do not receive it in the format that you have requested – it would take a significant amount of time to interrogate the data, to extract the specific volume of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride and provide the information in the requested format, approximately 60 man hours at a cost of £900 over and above the £600 or 3 days’ effort that you are assigned under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
We cannot release the data set in its entirety as it contains Sensitive Nuclear Information, which would need to be redacted/extracted under section 24 of FOIA, National Security.’
In other words
They would only be willing to let us have the answer, if we were willing to give them £900.
This ‘fee’ will then be used to redact much of the information from any reply which we might receive.
– 1. That what we asked for relates to a matter of very great public concern, and should be freely available to us all.
– 2. That we Do Not intend to pay out any money in order to maintain the secrecy which is an integral part of how the Nukiller Industry operates.
– 3. That we will continue to keep asking the same questions until we get the information which we require.