Nuclear traffic - Dounreay - Sellafield

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Bodie

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I read yesterday on BBC text that 'Campaigners' fear armed guards will be needed on the expected trains from Dounreay in Caithness to Sellafield in Cumbria.

Now my first reaction was to smack whoever wrote it, and I was very tempted to call this thread - Lies, Lies and more Lies

However I don't want to jump the gun, so is this indeed dreadful reporting or the truth???

Because from my limited knowledge, these trains will be no different to the ones that run every day all over the country and i've never read of armed guards being aboard those trains.

The reason I suspect lies, is the BBC don't always speak the truth when it comes to nuclear and railways.
Plus the report gave only 'Campaigners' as it source, which is a little vague to say the least.

Bodie
 
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johnnychips

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Plus the report gave only 'Campaigners' as it source, which is a little vague to say the least.

Bodie

This is not necessarily incorrect reporting, as the BBC has indeed quoted the campaigners' fear. Whether their speculation deserves such publicity is another matter. What's the problem with armed guards anyway if it is deemed necessary for security?
 

tsr

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I would say that it is quite likely that armed guards will be used, given the existing precautions taken elsewhere, albeit in different circumstances (e.g. armed staff are used to protect the road convoys that are sometimes used for nuclear materials' transportation). Obviously the railways are a generally safe and reasonably secure (depending on criteria considered) environment, but that doesn't mean they are without risk as a method of secure transportation.

I doubt that the issue of whether or not campaigners like the possibility of armed guards has anything much to do with the risk assessments that would define if they were needed, but then again, a protest on railway land about this issue would have an unknown impact (minor or not so minor). Unfortunately the security of any such materials that may be attractive to criminals (whether or not they would actually be usable by them) will be more important than considering some types of campaigners.

Let's hope that if you aren't doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear from any guards.

I shall remain positioned neutrally in terms of my opinions and thoughts on this matter.
 

Trog

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Safer by rail less chance of shipwreck, and if an acident did happen it would be in a much more controlable environment. Lifting a flask off the rocks in an Atlantic winter would be a nightmare, and any leakage would be spread by the ocean currents.
 

HSTEd

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It appears the armed guards might be required for the still relatively highly enriched uranium in the spent "driver" fuel from the Dounreay breeder reactors that needs moving to Sellafield for reprocessing and disposal.
This is a very small portion of the total material.

And noone complains (that I know of) about those convoys of HGVs with armed escorts that move nuclear weapons up and down the country to Faslane (that sort of traffic should be on the railways in my opinion, not just for safety reasons).
 

DownSouth

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Safer by rail less chance of shipwreck, and if an acident did happen it would be in a much more controlable environment. Lifting a flask off the rocks in an Atlantic winter would be a nightmare, and any leakage would be spread by the ocean currents.
Ah, but taking it by ship would reduce the chance of there being a rail crash.

It would be interesting to compare incident rates per tonne kilometre carried on rail and sea, I wouldn't be putting my money on rail coming out better.

For security purposes I would favour taking it by ship. Rail has the distinct disadvantage of the exact route being known well in advance, using fixed infrastructure along the entire route and the vehicles having no manoeuvrability. Sea transport also has the advantage of being able to class any problems as piracy and solve them using high explosive.
 

Domeyhead

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Total overreaction by camapaigners, the BBC....even one or two posters. Do we post armed guards today to accompany takkers shifting caustic soda? Nitric acid? Well supposing somebody stole a tanker load of arsenic and tipped it into Rutland Water before anyone even knew where it had gone? ....There are risks all around every day and many are far more damaging than spent nuclear fuel in a highly secure container. The only thing you can do with it that could be as damaging as the above scenario is put it into a dirty bomb, and if you have the the knowledge and material to do that Including the plastic explosives) I'd say you were a pretty dangerous person already.
 

6Gman

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The average campaigner is likely to be terrified of their own shadow.

:D

Nice one!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
There aren't armed guards on non-MoD flask movements anyway.

Some years ago, when I had responsibility for movement of ... er ... sensitive materials some had armed guards, some didn't, according to the risk assessment.

Mind you, since we now tolerate armed policemen standing around at Euston these days why would armed guards on a freight movement be a cause for concern?
 

DaveNewcastle

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I suspect someone's experience of risk assessments is informed more by an active imagination than by training and research:-
Ah, but taking it by ship would reduce the chance of there being a rail crash.

It would be interesting to compare incident rates per tonne kilometre carried on rail and sea, I wouldn't be putting my money on rail coming out better.

For security purposes I would favour taking it by ship. Rail has the distinct disadvantage of the exact route being known well in advance, using fixed infrastructure along the entire route and the vehicles having no manoeuvrability. Sea transport also has the advantage of being able to class any problems as piracy and solve them using high explosive.
"taking it by ship would reduce the chance of there being a rail crash". A rail crash? Where does that come into it?
Transporting waste by horse and cart or cancelling trains will reduce the chance of there being a rail crash! So what?

And where does high explosives at sea come into it?

We're discussing taking expired material from a former power station to a waste processing facility.
 

mbonwick

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Worth pointing out that the materials in queestion are so called "exotics", rather than the more bog-standard spent fuel shipped by rail.
 

WatcherZero

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Its a pretty moot question really, even if there wernt armed guards on the train they would be on standby as part of a rapid response unit.
 

brianthegiant

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Let's hope that if you aren't doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear from any guards.

I'm afraid the
'if you aren't doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear'
argument doesn't wash with me.
Far too many Police mistakes over the years, including a few fatal ones involving armed police.
Mark Duggan and Jean Charles de Menezes for example.

but I suspect thats why you added the 'Let hope' qualifier ;)
 

neilmc

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So would this site be prohibited from publishing timings of such trains, or sightings of them - after all they will be in transit for some consierable time!
 

HSTEd

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So would this site be prohibited from publishing timings of such trains, or sightings of them - after all they will be in transit for some consierable time!

Unless they will also be eliminated from websites such as Open Train Times it would be pointless, and working time tables are hardly highly restricted information.

Its also pointless since you could put someone on an overlook of the track leaving Dounreay several miles distant with a telescope (is it not in quite mountainous terrain) in a hunting hide, with instructions to alert comrades who were going to strike somewhere in Cumbria several hours before the train arrives.
 

DownSouth

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"taking it by ship would reduce the chance of there being a rail crash". A rail crash? Where does that come into it?
Transporting waste by horse and cart or cancelling trains will reduce the chance of there being a rail crash! So what?
It came into it because I made a reasonable reply to the previous post which stated that taking it by rail instead of a ship was a good move because it meant there would be no nuclear material involved in a shipwreck.
And where does high explosives at sea come into it?
If an unauthorised vessel approaches the ship and continues to do so after warnings are made on GUARD channels, it's safe to assume they are pirates and you have the escort vessel/helicopter sink it in self-defence. Pirate problem solved.

Various naval forces around the world have a significant amount of experience with escorting nuclear materials, it's a routine mission.
 

HSTEd

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It came into it because I made a reasonable reply to the previous post which stated that taking it by rail instead of a ship was a good move because it meant there would be no nuclear material involved in a shipwreck.

If an unauthorised vessel approaches the ship and continues to do so after warnings are made on GUARD channels, it's safe to assume they are pirates and you have the escort vessel/helicopter sink it in self-defence. Pirate problem solved.

Various naval forces around the world have a significant amount of experience with escorting nuclear materials, it's a routine mission.

You are going to have a Royal Navy warship open fire on a British registered ship in British territorial waters simply because they don't like the course its taking?

Approaching other ships is entirely acceptable and the RN has no right to demand otherwise.


Rail transport of nuclear materials is a routine mission for the railways and British police forces.
Additionally safety per tonne-kilometre is largely irrelevent unless you are suggesting we wait till we have a bulk carrier full of material. It would be safety per ship-kilometre that is important. Indeed BNFL sent a ship to Japan carrying only 3kg of nuclear material.
 

tsr

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You are going to have a Royal Navy warship open fire on a British registered ship in British territorial waters simply because they don't like the course its taking?

Approaching other ships is entirely acceptable and the RN has no right to demand otherwise.

You have to have a very good reason to be on a course that could result in you meeting another vessel. If you do not declare your intentions when approaching a vessel which is clearly under Navy guard you can expect some form of intervention. Depending on the discretion of the senior officers, this may or may not involve live fire.

The registration of the vessel does not necessarily matter and we have not had any particular reason to assume that the hypothetical ship you mention is British-registered anyway. As you full well know, a number of vessels of many different national registrations operate in our territorial waters.
 

IslandDweller

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The Civil Nuclear Constabulary are routinely armed, and have been since I was a lad (which is many years ago). This is not news - though clearly some campaigners want to make it so.
 

Bodie

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Hmmm, I did half suspect their might be some slightly different cargo on these trains there is the norm.

The crux of the matter here then appears to be - As this is a new kind of shipment then is carried at the moment on UK nuclear trains then there might be a need for armed guards. A very sensisble thing to do when a new shipment is to be moved by any means of transport. I hope they will come to the correct conclusion whatever that may turn out to be.

As for the campaigner's, no doubt if the powers that be just dismissed armed guards and said it will be treated as any other nuclear train, they'd spit feathers and thus the following would be on the BBC instead :-

'Campaigner's fears at unarmed nuclear trains'

Your damned if you do and damned it you don't

These campaigner's must take the Caroline Lucas view on the world

If you don't like it, feign stupidity

Anyone who watches Question Time will know what I speak of. Miss Lucas don't understand why we need nuclear anything.
She also along with that Germaine Green woman think it 'strange' that we have an overseas island so far far away. Thus we must let it go and sod all the people on it.

My distain for such people reaches new heights everyday

Bodie
 
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