Faslane Peace Camp interrupt nuclear weapons seminar

IssueOctober 2012
News by Leonna O'Neill

On 6 September, anti-nuclear protesters from Faslane Peace Camp delivered an emotive message to the 'next generation' of nuclear weapons engineers at a nuclear weapons seminar in a hotel in Clydebank.

The 'Introduction to Nuclear Defence' seminar, held in Beardmore Hotel Clydebank, invited 'young delegates' for two days of seminars and presentations on military nuclear topics from 'leading industry figures'. The programme, only open to UK passport holders subject to stringent security checks, included a tour of the Faslane naval base where the entire British nuclear weapons submarine fleet is based.

Seven activists from Faslane Peace Camp entered the seminar room to interrupt the proceedings and question the legitimacy of preparing a new generation of young people for employment in the nuclear arms industry when the UK is obligated to disarm through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and when the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile submarine fleet has not received democratic approval.

The seven presented the delegates with large images of victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and read out (in unison) first-hand accounts from Hiroshima survivors before being ushered out by hotel security.

The activists handed out leaflets to other residents of the hotel and left before the police arrived.

Short Sermon

On 5 September, 800 officials from Faslane naval base and from the local fire brigade, council and health service, took part in an exercise simulating a nuclear reactor accident at the base. Exercise Short Sermon assumed that, in the event of an accident, radioactive fission material would be contained within the hull of a submarine, and not released into the water or atmosphere.

A 'public awareness scheme' letter, written on ministry of defence (MoD) headed notepaper, was circulated to local residents explaining that while the exercise assumed otherwise, there were foreseeable scenarios for 'containment failure'.

The letter pointed out, among other things, that emergency planning for Faslane resembles that for the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which assumed that any release of radioactive material would be restricted to a small area around the plant.

While the MoD currently assumes radioactive materials would not spread beyond 2km, in Fukushima, a 20km-wide area had to be evacuated. The US evacuated all personnel within a 50km radius of Fukushima (even though in the US itself, there is a 10km-radius evacuation policy).

Topics: Nuclear weapons
See more of: Scotland