Sunday, 2 October 2016

Risks of Nuclear convoys through Glasgow

A report by Rob Edwards called "Nukes of Hazard: the Nuclear Bomb Convoys on our Roads" includes information released by the MoD under freedom of information law, responses from local authorities and fire services and an opinion poll commissioned from YouGov. It is available from the webpage at:

On Tuesday 27th September, I supported a public meeting organised by Scottish CND and ICAN UK to discuss this report

With Alison Thewliss MP, Jane Tallents - Nukewatch, 
Rob Edwards and Rebecca Sharkey - ICAN.

An accident involving a nuclear convoy could do catastrophic harm to Glasgow's people, environment, and commerce.

In terms of public health, the convoys increase risk of injury or loss of life for people living in the city centre in particular. In addition, there is the long-term risk of cancers affecting those exposed to radioactivity contaminating within communities across the city and wider area. 

Risk of cancer increases for babies and toddlers. They are about four times as sensitive to radiation cancer-inducing effects as middle-aged adults. Pregnant women and young mothers are also highly vulnerable. There is a higher risk of low-birth weight babies and infant deaths as a consequence of this disaster. Women are uniquely impacted by nuclear radioactivity. In particular, there are high rates of stillbirths, miscarriages, birth defects, and reproductive problems.

Destruction of local infrastructure such as schools and hospitals disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in a population, including young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic illness.

Members of emergency services, health care professionals, other personnel providing essential services, and the many who may be called to assist in responses to humanitarian emergencies would face unique dangers and difficulties following any nuclear explosion, with widespread and persistent radioactivity severely complicating and hampering access and relief efforts.

The capacity to assist survivors of a nuclear detonation would first and foremost be restricted by limited access to the victims.

As shown in the 2007 City of Hiroshima ‘Report from the Committee of Experts on Damage Scenarios Resulting from a Nuclear Weapons Attack’, any intervening agency would have to find a way to access the area affected without exposing themselves to unacceptable levels of radiation, particularly during the days immediately after the explosion.

The firestorms erupting a few minutes after the explosion would pose another barrier. The explosion from a single nuclear weapon accident would impose economic costs at least equivalent to, and most likely well beyond, the costs of a major natural disaster.

Past experience with large-scale natural and human-induced disasters tells us that the resulting economic costs depend strongly on the population density and the nature and extent of economic activities carried out in the zone surrounding the site of the explosion.

In a key urban area of Glasgow, the costs of the immediate destruction and longer-term economic disruption inside and potentially far outside of that area could easily run into millions of pounds. 

It is not difficult to imagine that extraordinary pressure would be placed on Glasgow City Council, and Scottish Government to take some form of strong action in response. Disasters affect the achievement of development through loss of lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure, but also through the diversion of funds to emergency relief and reconstruction and address the broader effects on the economy.

In the aftermath of any major disaster people are typically displaced from their homes for varying amounts of time.

As has been shown in the Marshall Islands, Fukushima, and Chernobyl, displacement is a serious issue in the wake of a nuclear catastrophe. The inhabitants of the Marshall Islands became nomads, “disconnected from their lands and their cultural and indigenous way of life. The tsunami, earthquake, and Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster destroyed 90 percent of homes in the small town of Futuba. The government evacuated residents living within 20 km of the nuclear power plant, resulting in the displacement of 77,000 people. Many people continue to live in temporary shelters and residences, uncertain if they would ever be able to return home. In October 2012, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) declared the Fukushima nuclear disaster to be an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Disasters have devastating effects on the environment depending on their type, severity, and location. Generally, disasters affect key natural resources such as fields, soil, forests, and biodiversity. In the near term, restoring these assets is often impossible. Nuclear weapons have a particularly horrific effect on the environment, from water through to soil.

This report highlights the responsibility on us all to show stronger leadership in outlawing and eliminating these weapons.

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