(April 11, 2003) We have experienced some problems in producing this issue of the Nuclear Monitor. Two members of our editorial team at WISE Amsterdam have been ill for quite a long time. Therefore we were not able to mail out this issue on 28 March as planned. We apologize for the delay.
Due to the problems we were also not able to do English corrections. Some contributions were written by people from the UK or US. Other articles however might contain some spelling or grammatical errors.
As one of our editorial members is not able to work in the coming weeks we cannot set a fixed date for the next issue (586). We will try to mail it out on 25 April but it might be some later.
WISE Amsterdam editorial team
NIRS and WISE both celebrate their 25th anniversaries this year. This is the fifth article in a series, "25 years ago", comparing anti-nuclear news "then" and "now", to mark our first quarter-century of anti-nuclear campaigning.
In issue 1 of WISE Bulletin we wrote about security and plutonium economy at the Sellafield (then called Windscale) reprocessing plant: "The report on the Windscale Enquiry on expansion of reprocessing gives precedence to controlling terrorism in a 'plutonium economy' over the defense of civil liberties against erosion. This contradicts the 'Flowers Report', of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, which said the 'unquantifiable effects of security measures that might become necessary in the plutonium economy of the future' should be a major concern in deciding about plans for nuke expansion. Britain's Atomic Energy Constabulary, 400 strong, carry arms at all times and have far-reaching powers of pursuit, entry and arrest on suspicion". (WISE Bulletin 1, May 1978)
The expansion of the Windscale/Sellafield reprocessing plant have been realized, despite the mentioned concerns about the threats of a plutonium economy. In 1993 test operations marked the start of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP). THORP was built for reprocessing European and Japanese spent fuel. (WISE News Communique 398.3876: "Sellafield radiation kept deliberately high")
The 11 September 2001 terrorist attack on the US cities of New York and Washington have increased fears of the security of reprocessing facilities. According to studies in the UK, a terrorist attack on Sellafield with a hijacked plane could have severe consequences. If such an attack would occur on the high-level waste tanks as much as 1.1 million fatal cancers could be the consequence and in a worst case scenario even up to 3.6 million cases. (WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 583: "In brief")
Since the recent war in Iraq Sellafield's security status has been raised from "Black Special" to "Amber", which happened last immediately following the 11 September 2001 attacks. Despite the "Amber" status the protection of the site appeared to be as lax as ever when two activists were able to enter the complex and unfurl two banners. The two placed ladders against the perimeter security fence close to the plutonium storage buildings. They erected a banner on top of the fence with the word "BANG !". After having taken photographs of the action, they removed the banner and ladders and were well on their way from the site before being stopped by the police. Satisfied with an explanation that they had simply taken general photographs, the police waved them on their way, not knowing what exactly had occurred. (CORE Briefing, 24 March 2003)