Article from Undercurrents 1981
Barrow in Furnace
Three citizens of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, are challenging in court the construction by British Nuclear Fuels of a £6m dock extension in the town. The three members of Barrow & District Action Group Against the Import of Nuclear Waste, want to test the claim of BNFL that it needs no planning permission to carry out the extension, which will result in ships carrying nuclear waste docking less than 2km from a gas terminal.
The Action Group was formed by local residents following a report by the Political Ecology Research Group in 1979. The report stated that an accident which involved a long lasting fire on a nuclear waste ship would lead to radioactive contamination of a 50km radius from Barrow. This led to a great deal of concern in Barrow and 14,000 people signed petitions calling for the halting of this trade. Barrow Council who in May of this year passed a resolution opposing the shipments entering the port of Barrow, has made several re-requests to BNFL that they should be kept informed of their every move in Barrow. BNFL failed to do this and in November 1980 started to construct their terminal without telling the local authority. The site BNFL has chosen is within a dock basin designated also for the loading of highly inflammable liquid gas condensate. BNFL have denied that an accident could happen; however, a report from the Safety and Reliability Directorate (a subsidiary of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority admitted that : –
“We believe that a substantial spill of condensate during loading could possibly result in fire engulfment of a ship unloading spent nuclear fuel flasks at the BNFL facility within the same dock basin.”
The costs of the legal action the group is taking are £10,000. If the case is won it could damage the importing of nuclear waste to the Windscale plant as well as jeopardising BNFLs contract business with reactors……