Environment

Springfields Nuclear Site and Fracking at Roseacre: The Elephant in The Room

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Nuclear ‘Blue’ Route

During Cuadrilla’s recent public Planning Inquiry for permission to frack at Roseacre Wood, a significant fact has been kept under wraps: the proposed ‘blue route’ for Cuadrilla’s fracking HGV traffic is the identical same route as all radioactive cargoes that travel to and from the Westinghouse Springfields nuclear site, on narrow, country lanes.

Radiation Free Lakeland (RaFL) are a group of volunteers based in Cumbria with supporters in Lancashire. Their remit is nuclear safety. They wrote to Lancashire County Council [1]and to the Health and Safety Executive[2] repeatedly regarding the close proximity of fossil fuel extraction to nuclear sites.

Cloak of Invisibility Over Springfields Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel Site

The BBC and others have failed to expose the close proximity of Cuadrilla’s sites to Springfields. In the image below from the BBC, a label has been added for Springfields (a built-up area shaped like a teardrop) onto their map of the Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton proposed fracking sites.

fracking nuclear

The old Ordnance Survey map states “Works (Nuclear Fuels).” The word ‘Nuclear’ has long since been dropped from newer maps.

Blue Route: Materials for all UK Civil Military Nuclear Industry (including overseas)

A spokesperson from RaFL said:  

“Cuadrilla plan to use the same narrow country road as that travelled by the UK’s materials for the civil and military nuclear industry. This includes enriched uranium, depleted uranium and radioactive gas to and from Springfields.  The fact that this has never been flagged up is alarming. Springfields must have a cloak of invisibility more potent than Harry Potter’s.”

Cuadrilla appear to be oblivious that the Blue Route goes past the gates of Springfields Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing Plant. There is no mention of Springfields at all, as far as we can see in their Core Documents[3]

This lack of awareness by Cuadrilla of the unique dangers posed by Springfields is alarming.

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.[4] These materials pose a radiological and chemical threat to human health and to the environment.

In 2000 the Guardian reported[5] that:

“Flasks used by British Nuclear Fuels to transport dangerous radioactive material can resist fire for less than three minutes, newly released research reveals.

“The revelation will provide fresh headaches for the crisis-ridden BNFL, which runs a major business using the flasks. New safety regulations demanded by the United Nations mean that all the flasks will now have to be replaced.

“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.

“Using the suspect flasks BNFL exports hex to Russia, US and Europe from its Springfields fuel fabrication plant in Preston. Internationally, the nuclear industry makes 2,300 shipments of hex every year by road, rail and sea. The study was by the Institut de Protection et de Sreté Nucléaire (IPSN) in Paris, which advises the French government on nuclear safety. IPSN scientists led by Gilles Sert baked flasks in an oven and ran computer simulations to see if the hex container most widely used, a type 48Y, would survive the kind of fire that could erupt after an accident.”

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.”

Springfields is leased by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to an asset management company from Canada[6]

To Russia from Springfields (via the Blue Route)

Springfields provides nuclear fuel and materials to many overseas customers including Russia. Has Cuadrilla asked the Office for Nuclear Regulation for a full itinerary of Springfields vehicle movements and cargo passing along the Blue Route? RaFL made a Freedom of Information request in 2017 for information on the transport of enriched uranium from Springfields to Russia. They were informed that the information from 2014 would be “too burdensome” to retrieve.  

Cuadrilla say that the volume of HGV traffic along the Blue Route would be increased by 80.65% which suggests that they have information from Springfields on Nuclear Materials HGV movements. This then begs the question: why hasn’t the hazardous nature of the cargoes from Springfields been acknowledged by Cuadrilla in their Transport Consultation Reports?

Bulk Radioactive Materials: careful!

There is no doubt that the lorries carrying radiological and chemical materials passing in and out of Springfields gates hold cargoes that are uniquely dangerous to human health[7]. These cargoes must be carried extremely carefully[8].

The increase in HGV movements as a result of fracking at Roseacre would add high risks to an already intolerable (and with new nuclear build increasing) risk from the transports of radiological and chemical materials to and from the Springfields plant. The UK government want to see an increase in this radioactive burden to and from Springfields with new nuclear builds planned.

Public health is a stated priority in the Fylde Coast Highways and Transport Masterplan. RaFL suggest that approval for an up to 80% increase in HGV on this rural lane ‘Blue Route’ along which also travels ALL of the UK’s nuclear fuel and process materials would fly in the face of public health and safety. Radiation Free Lakeland believes that Cuadrilla’s appeal be unequivocally turned down.

 

 

*The above article was part of a submission to the Planning Inspector in charge of the Roseacre appeal.

References:

[1] Council Urged No Fracking in Lancashire https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/council-urged-no-fracking-in-lancashire-take-responsibility-for-existing-risk/

[2] Fossil Fueled Earthquakes? https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/fossil-fueled-earthquakes-at-the-uks-two-key-nuclear-sites/

[3] Transport Consultation Report Nov 2017 http://programmeofficers.co.uk/Cuadrilla2018/CD6/CD6.1.pdf

[4] 70 Years http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/appendices/nuclear-development-in-the-united-kingdom.aspx

[5] Nuclear Flasks Fail Safety Tests https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2000/apr/01/energy.nuclearindustry

[6] Westinghouse Acquired https://www.lancashirebusinessview.co.uk/westinghouse-acquired-4-6bn-100565/

[7] Health http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/guide/uf6/health/index.cfm

[8] Carefully to Carry Radioactive Uranium Hexaflouride https://www.ukpandi.com/fileadmin/uploads/uk-pi/LP%20Documents/Carefully_to_Carry/C2C_Articles_2018/Radioactive_Uranium_Hexaflouride__UF6_.pdf

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