Nuclear Waste in Bournville

nuclear trainA train carrying a nuclear flask, used to transport nuclear waste material between power stations, has been spotted travelling through Bournville station. The train was seen at lunchtime on Thursday 4th November.

Recent mass protests in Germany and France, where a train made up of 14 wagons is making its way to a storage centre in Gorleben, northern Germany, have highlighted public concern over such transports .

In 2006 Greenpeace published a national timetable for nuclear trains. That suggested that a train travelling from Bridgewater to Crewe travels via Worcester and Stourbidge but would not go via the cross-city south line. It’s not known whether the train seen by was therefore on a diversion or if a different timetable is in operation.

Greenpeace have produced a report on the hazards of carrying nuclear waste by train and suggested that “if a train travelling through these stations is subjected to terrorist attack, 350,000 people may be evacuated. 8,000 could die in the long-term from the effects of radiation.”

The flasks themselves have been subject to stringent safety tests including being involved in a staged train crash in 1984 and heated to 800 degree Celsius. There have been incidents of derailments and collisions involving the flasks but to date no reported leaks. However, figures show that the number of incidents involving nuclear materials on all transport forms rose from four in 1972 to 35 in 2001.

Planning for dealing with major incidents in the City falls to the multi-agency Birmingham Resilience team who have created an emergency plan for incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials.

nuclear flask, kiddeminster
Top pic of nuclear flask train by D Harte; bottom pic of train near Kiddeminster by Frosted Peppercorn

7 comments on “Nuclear Waste in Bournville

  1. The crash stage in 1984 was not a “stringent safety test”, it was a publicity stunt.

    I remember reading newspaper headlines around that time, about such trains passing through Hamstead.

  2. I believe that these trains usually run along the Lifford Line through Moseley and Kings Norton, joining the Cross-City line at Kings Norton and heading south.

  3. They’ve been transporting spent fuel through Birmingham for decades, without a single incident. I must say it’s hilarious to see the Labour MP for Selly Oak rushing to make an idiot of himself though – when his own party announced that they wished to look to nuclear power in the future, exactly how did he propose transporting the resulting spent fuel back to Sellafield?!

    This is a complete non-story, and more fool the Stephen McCabe for taking any notice, let alone the Evening Fail for printing it.

  4. See our follow up to this story here.
    The Birmingham Mail is promising another follow up shortly. No, the story is not new, though seeing a train in Bournville seems a new (possibly worrying) twist. CND has been aware of the trains for decades however – people used to go nuke train spotting to log ’em. The story has slipped off the local agenda. The danger has not. This London group have been taking it very seriously for a long time now though, and say they are bemused (though pleased) that us lot in Brum seem to be finally waking up …