On 25th April 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union shook the world. While that disaster has been unfolding for the last 32 years the worlds first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant based in a small village near Preston, UK has been quietly continuing with its civil and military nuclear contracts
Through the gates of the Springfields plant pass a deadly cargo of nuclear materials which have fuelled nuclear bombs, nuclear reactors and nuclear accidents for over 70 years. These materials pose a radiological and chemical threat to human health and to the environment.
Springfields has been operating so quietly under the radar that the recent public inquiry into fracking at Roseacre Woods has failed to expose the inconvenient truth that the fracking HGVs would share the exact same country lane with nuclear materials including the uniquely toxic uranium hexaflouride (Hex) to and from the Springfields site.
“This briefing is a snapshot of hard earned knowledge gained by campaigners. It is a work in progress and aims to shine a Spotlight on Springfields”
In a forward to the briefing Dr Paul Dorfman of The Energy Institute, University College London states:
‘Given the very significant radiological risk associated with production at Springfields, and the fact that the major population centre of Liverpool is down-wind, it’s truly astonishing that more attention hasn’t been paid to this facility. This well-researched document opens the lid on the can of worms that is Springfields’
Included in the briefing is:
‘Hex’ and some reasons for concern –
- In 1989 M. A. Simpson of BNFL Springfields wrote: “The fuel and enrichment divisions within BNFL are involved in some 4000 lorry journeys per year covering the transport of non-irradiated fuel elements as well as the feed materials and intermediate products of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle.” (Transportation for the Nuclear Industry Edited By D.G. Walton, S.M. Blackburn)
- Flasks used by the nuclear industry to carry deadly radioactive material around the country could explode, causing nuclear disaster. Research by French scientists found that the flasks were only able to resist fire for less than three minutes. The flasks transport uranium hexafluoride, or “hex”- used to make fuel for nuclear power stations.
- As well as being radioactive, hex reacts with air to produce hydrofluoric acid. This is a gas, which can destroy the lungs. The nuclear industry transports hex to Russia, the United States and Europe from its Springfields nuclear plant in Preston.
Uranium concentrations found in Springfields stream sediments have been found to be about 20 times background level. Radmil monitoring organisation, Lancashire County Council’s now defunct nuclear watchdog, had tested the River Ribble and there was no radiation along it from granite. The elements which formed the source of the Ribble pollution could only have come from Springfields.
The Springfields website boasts that it has already produced several million fuel elements and provided products and services for over 140 reactors in more than 12 countries. The country road to and from Springfields, situated at the far end of Preston New Road, is the worlds first nuclear fuel highway. Springfields is being primed to produce ever more nuclear fuels and nuclear materials and now may well have fracking lorries for company.
A print edition of this report will soon be available.