When was HANT formed?

HANT was formed at a well attended public meeting in Dingwall, Ross-shire, Scotland in March 2013

Why was HANT formed ?

HANT was formed in response to concerns by members of the public about the announcement by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority that a high number of trains carrying nuclear waste would be running from Dounreay to Sellafield. The nuclear waste is transported first to Georgemas Junction by road, Georgemas Junction to Barrow-in-Furness by rail via Inverness-Perth-Glasgow-Motherwell-Carlisle-Barrow, and then by road from Barrow to Sellafield

The possibility that some waste would be transported by sea was also being discussed with the materials going by road from Dounreay to Scrabster Harbour and then from Scrabster Harbour by sea to Barrow-in-Furness and then by road to Sellafield

And then in December 2015 secret plans to transport weapons-grade uranium stored at Dounreay to the US by air were revealed.

Up to 2020 rail, sea and air transport has all been used with HAND raising concerns about all three modes of transport.

Why is this a matter of concern to HANT, UK environmental and other organisations around the world ?

Despite the reassurances provided by the nuclear industry the transport of highly radioactive materials between destinations within the UK and internationally does pose risks to the environment, local populations and key industries that rely on clean seas

The industry also claims that the transports meet all international regulations and armed guards are deployed at various stages of the movements - it is very difficult for lay organisations to check whether regulations are being followed because of the secrecy surrounding all nuclear transports.

Both fish farming and the fishing industry rely on clean seas as their products are marketed as originating from clean and unpolluted seas and have to meet specific standards.

The proposal therefore to transport nuclear waste by sea is a negative factor for all industries relying on a clean environment as the consequences of an accident with a ship carrying nuclear waste could be catastrophic, and reputations can be damaged even without accidents

Other industries with a direct interest in these risks are farming. fishing, tourism and other industries.

In addition to HANT many organisations campaign to avoid the environment being contaminated and thereby causing damage to the natural world.

With the increasing terrorist activity around the world another scenario is of terrorists trying to access nuclear materials for use as bomb making material

The nuclear industry claims that containers used in transport of nuclear materials by rail or sea are tested in ways which aim to replicate accident scenarios

These tests (especially the one involving a train in 1984) are highlighted but independent engineers claim that the tests of this kind do not demonstrate all types of accidents and the consequences cannot be accurately predicted

The nuclear industry also claims that the ships used for nuclear transport are purpose built or converted to international standards

In 1993, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced the voluntary Code for the Safe Carriage of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes in Flasks on Board Ships (INF Code), complementing the IAEA Regulations. These complementary provisions mainly cover ship design, construction and equipment.

What types of accidents or incidents could happen ?

All the accidents that happen to conventional transport by sea, rail, road and air can happen when nuclear cargo is carried

There have been many recent (2014 & 2015) marine accidents around the north and west of Scotland and in October 2014 the MV Parida carrying nuclear waste from Scrabster (Caithness) to Antwerp (Belgium) broke down in the Moray Firth due to a funnel fire.

Fifty two workers had to be evacuated from a Beatrice oil field platform as the vessel was drifting dangerously close

This all happened in a Force 8 gale and it was due to the skill of seamen on the ship and a rescue tug that the vessel was eventually towed into Invergordon (Ross-shire) for repairs

It transpired after the Danish Maritime Investigation Board Inquiry report was published that there was a second fire on the ship after the ship had left Invergordon to continue the voyage to Antwerp

Lang Banks, director of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Scotland said the incident was a clear warning not to transport the more dangerous Dounreay “exotics” (nuclear fuels) to Sellafield in Cumbria by sea, as is currently being considered.

He said: “This latest incident highlights the problems of dealing with the hazardous and expensive radioactive mess that the nuclear industry always leaves in its wake. Given all the severe weather warnings, questions need asked as to why a vessel carrying radioactive material was at sea at all. This should act as a wake-up call to the bosses at Dounreay.”

He said any plans to ship the ‘exotics’ to Cumbria by sea must be sent back to the drawing board.

The then Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said he was uncomfortable with the idea of ships with nuclear cargoes waiting for weather windows. “It raises lots of questions how we regulate the transportation of nuclear waste through Scottish waters.”

What has HANT done about this and other plans for transporting nuclear waste ?

HANT representatives have met with senior staff of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Direct Rail Services to raise concerns about use of rail for nuclear waste transport and has called for more consultation with local communities and for information about the risks to be communicated to local communities

HANT has met with the Leader, Director of Development and Planning and the Emergency Planning Officer of Highland Council

HANT raised public concern about nuclear transport including the need for an Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) to be available on the west coast to deal with any marine incident involving vessels carrying nuclear waste

This demand is secondary to HANT’s position that no shipments should be made and the materials should be stored and monitored under strict security at Dounreay, which would retain and create much needed employment

The position on the case for an ETV is supported by the Scottish Government and Highland Council together with all the Islands Authorities, Nuclear Free Local Authorities and many other organisations

HANT also raised the need for more public information and consultation but was unable to convince Highland Council of the need for the matter to be raised at Ward Forums

HANT has held public meetings in several towns and invited speakers including John Finnie (Independent MSP for Highlands & Islands), Paul Monaghan (MP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross), and representatives from DSRL (Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd.)

Is there any point in continuing with this campaign given the report from DRSL (Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd.) that 11 tones of nuclear waste in 32 road and rail shipments had been made from Dounreay to Sellafield between 2012 and 2015 ?

This has been done safely according to DSRL but given the secrecy surrounding the nuclear industry any incidents might never be known to the public or revealed several years later as has happened with previous incidents at Dounreay

HANT is of the view that highlighting the issues and providing more information to the public is fulfilling a role that should be carried out by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Scottish Government, the UK Government and by Local Authorities, and HANT plans to continue with its campaigns as long as the risks remain and as long as it takes for changes to be implemented to current policies

HANT believes there are issue of Human Rights and Freedom of Information involved and that the increased secrecy surrounding these matters should be challenged

What expertise do HANT Committee and Members have in relation to nuclear power and nuclear waste transport ?

HANT Members are lay people as is the HANT Committee and do not claim credentials in relation to the technical issues involved in nuclear power and its legacy of radioactive materials which will have to be dealt with for thousands of years

But HANT Committee and Members are a cross-section of individuals from local communities with a concern about the secret activities in the form of nuclear transport which are happening on their doorsteps

HANT is simply harnessing these concerns into a coherent campaign which includes holding the nuclear industry, the nuclear regulators, the Scottish Government and the UK Government to account and demanding answers to very legitimate questions

Why is it important for HANT to continue its campaign in 2018 and beyond ?

HANT believes it is important as the highlighting of these issues and the lifting of unnecessary secrecy are fundamental to a free and democratic society

We are constantly reminded how lucky we are to live in a society which is so much more fair, free and open than other societies around the world

Everyone involved in these issues has the opportunity to demonstrate that this is truly the case and that we can then believe that there is nothing to hide.

Also to demonstrate that everything is being done to safeguard the general public and not providing companies with the opportunities to put profit before safety and reward shareholders with large pay-outs while leaving the public in the dark and exposed to unnecessary risks.

The root causes of the issues are the extreme secrecy of the nuclear industry which it tries to justify by reference to “security” but in HANT’s view is more related to the inextricable link between civil and nuclear power i.e. that the materials needed for nuclear warheads are produced by the nuclear industry which leads to increased secrecy

Another root cause is the nuclear industry’s attempts to save money by consolidating nuclear waste in one national site at Sellafield which has been described as “the most toxic nuclear site in Europe”.

We believe this to be an abuse of power by the Government and its agencies and HANT aims to correct this injustice towards its taxpaying citizens

HANT would ultimately wish to replace the current nuclear stakeholder engagement policy with one which fully involves the public – not just those who gain from the nuclear industry

Which organisations have supported HANT’s campaign ?

HANT is supported in its campaigns by many individual politicians and organisations including :

  • NFLA (Nuclear Free Local Authorities) has invited HANT representatives to two seminars (Perth 2014 & Lerwick 2015) to provide input on nuclear transport and a Press Release dated 14 December 2015 stated “NFLA calls for complete review of nuclear waste transports going out from Dounreay by rail, sea, road and air

    The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has written to Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) over its ongoing concerns with the transportation of radioactive materials – some of which includes unirradiated plutonium – out of the Dounreay site.

    HANT has continued its close working relationship with NFLA into 2021 and has participated in many events run by NFL between 2016-2020

  • Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) – FoES is opposed to nuclear power as a source of energy and has opposed transport of nuclear waste

  • CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) – CORE aim’s are to stop reprocessing, stop foreign waste imports & exports, stop aerial and sea discharges, expose health damage and prevent Cumbria becoming the nuclear dustbin of the world

  • KIMO (Local Authorities International Environmental Organisation) : KIMO was founded by local municipalities with a shared concern for the state of the environment. KIMO is designed to give municipalities a political voice at the international level, to share best practice and to find solutions to marine political problems that affect coastal communities.

    KIMO reports that over 40 nuclear reactors are currently being constructed in 11 countries. The transportation and emission of nuclear waste pose a threat to the health of our oceans. Increased reprocessing of radioactive waste and its subsequent transportation by sea increases the chance that a serious nuclear accident may occur. The impact of a nuclear cargo vessel running aground on our coastlines is inconceivable – not only threatening our marine ecosystem, but the health of coastal communities

  • Other organisations supporting HANT’s campaign or with which HANT has contact are included in the ABOUT section of the website

HANT acknowledges the Nuclear Power FAQ which is from the Friends of the Earth Scotland (www.foe-scotland.org.uk) website.

Nuclear Power Q and A

Nuclear power is an expensive, ineffective and a risky way to address climate change. Nuclear power also leaves future generations a legacy of deadly radioactive waste to deal with. Investment in energy conservation and renewables is cheaper, safer and quicker than nuclear. As a means of solving climate change and improving energy security nuclear power is a ‘white elephant’.

Read our Q and A below to find out more and then have your say.

Q: Is nuclear power carbon free?

A: No, but it is low carbon. The actual level is debatable and perhaps as bad as gas.

Q: If you accept it is low carbon, why not use it as part of the solution?

A: There are still key problems of waste and proliferation.

Q: You didn’t say ‘safety’ – do you accept that it is safe?

A: No, there are still issues for waste, and a possibility of high impact events and poor management.

Q: Going back to waste, isn’t there a solution?

A: No – there are storage techniques of variable risk, but none that can be guaranteed for the millennia needed, and no we can’t fire it into the sun …

Q: Some environmentalists have said that they have changed their minds on nuclear because of climate change – why haven’t you?

A: I appreciate their concerns, though few are really recent converts. We think nuclear is not only unnecessary to deliver climate change targets (as well as being a technology that we can’t safely share all around the world); but that it undermines sustainable options such as efficiency and renewables.

Q: But don’t we need nuclear for energy security (to keep the lights on) – the winddoesn’t blow all the time, gas is imported and running out, and you’re anti-coal too.

A: Nuclear is inflexible, we can do better with improved storage, carbon capture and storage, efficiency etc – and uranium supplies aren’t all that secure in reality either.

Q: So why is nuclear back on the agenda?

A: A number of reasons – there is a powerful lobby, the link with weapons, it’s a Labour opportunity to attack SNP and it’s a big industry with unionised workers.