Nuclear flask safety fears allayed

By Danielle NuttallTHE company responsible for carrying nuclear waste from the two power stations has stressed the process was safe.Amid growing concerns over possible terrorist attacks in the country, there has been renewed speculation one of the targets could be the nuclear industry.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE company responsible for carrying nuclear waste from the two power stations has stressed the process was safe.

Amid growing concerns over possible terrorist attacks in the country, there has been renewed speculation one of the targets could be the nuclear industry.

The nuclear flasks carry spent fuel to Sellafield from Britain's nuclear power stations, which are operated by British Energy. They also carry new fuel to stations from the Springfield plant in Lancashire.


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They are moved through Suffolk from the two power stations at Sizewell on behalf of British Energy by the rail firm Direct Rail Services (DRS).

A spokesman for DRS said: “For security reasons it is not sensible to comment on opportunities for terrorists to attack flasks.

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“However, the design, testing and operational arrangements agreed with the appropriate Government departments take into account perceived terrorism threats.

“Flasks are heavily-shielded, purpose-built containers constructed from forged steel more than 30cm thick. Each flask weighs over 50 tonnes and is housed in a locked cover fastened to the rail wagon for transportation.”

He added: “Used nuclear fuel has been transported by rail since 1962 and during that time more than seven million miles have been travelled in the UK without an accident involving the release of radioactivity.

“DRS operates within extremely stringent safety and security regulations that are continually monitored, ensuring the risk of any incident is minimised at all times.”

A British Energy spokeswoman said it had an equal commitment to high safety in the transportation of flasks.

But Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said: “Nothing is safe from a terrorist attack.

“If the train collides into another train and the flask is tipped over that's true. What's not true is that they would be proof against a rocket-propelled grenade.

“It's not good enough to say it's all very safe and nothing has happened. It's the unexpected we have to think about. The only thing to do, of course, is to shut down all the nuclear power stations as soon as possible.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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