Thursday, November 22, 2001

By Alan Irving

A Cumbrian anti-nuclear group says it will not be gagged over the government's proposed anti-terrorist bill which will make it illegal to give details of sensitive nuclear issues.

Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (Core), which in the past has been the first to tell the world about BNFL transportation's - including the future armed Mox shipments from Barrow, says it will continue to inform the public even at the risk of going to prison.

The new bill, expected to become law in a few weeks, bans publication of details about the security of nuclear sites, the transport of nuclear materials and sensitive nuclear technology such as uranium enrichment.

Under the act which will have catch-all powers to protect Britain from all sorts of terrorist activity, it will become a criminal off-ence carrying imprisonment to give details of nuclear waste train movements to Sellafield.

Core's campaign co-ordinator, Martin Forwood, said: "If we think there is a very good reason for informing the public about what is going on with nuclear transports we will find a way round it.

"At the end of the day, what is the national interest? We will judge everything on its merits.

"If we think it important to tell somebody or our world network of any particular circumstances then we would do so."

Core is lending its support to Greenpeace, who took a full-page advertisement in The Guardian on Monday urging the public to protest to the Home Secretary over what is described as "an outrageous" bill.

A large part of the advert is taken up with a map showing a nuclear waste transportation route through London ending up at Sellafield, with the headline: "In four weeks this advert will be ILLEGAL."

BNFL said its safety record for transporting spent nuclear fuel was second to none.

"At no time has there been an accident involving a release of radioactivity," said a spokes-man.

l The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary responsible for security at the country's nuclear sites is being given wider powers under new legislation.

At Sellafield, which holds one of the world's biggest plutonium stockpiles, the police have a special licence to carry and, if necessary, use firearms to protect the site.

Home Secretary David Blunkett recently told the House of Commons: "I am determined to strike a balance between respecting our fundamental civil liberties and ensuring they are not exploited."