Stephen Williams MP - working hard for Bristol West

Stephen Williams MP & Cllr Sue O'Donnell quiz government over nuclear train fears

4.06.59pm BST (GMT +0100) Tue 22nd Aug 2006

Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, and councillor for Lawrence Hill ward, Sue O'Donnell, are raising questions with local and national government over the safety of trains carrying nuclear waste through Bristol.

Stephen Williams wrote to Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks asking about the possibility of a terrorist threat to such trains back in May, since when it has been revealed that a Daily Mirror journalist was able to walk unimpeded up to a train in a London siding and place a fake 'bomb' on board. Mr Wicks replied only that train security was already 'adequately robust' and that if there were a threat, 'appropriate action' would be taken.

Now, Sue O'Donnell is to ask the leader of the council at next month's full council meeting about what preparations have been made if the worst were to happen in Bristol. In particular she is keen to find out about what evacuation plans have been drawn up and after what length of time people would be allowed back to their homes.

Sue O'Donnell said "The people of Bristol have a right to know how many more nuclear trains will pass through built up areas if and when Labour start building a whole load more power stations. These trains were built to withstand accidents, but terrorism is a different matter. We should be questioning whether there is a need for them to pass through residential areas at all."

Stephen Williams said "There should be no more transportation of spent nuclear fuel until a full investigation has been carried out of how a journalist could so easily gain access to one of these trains.

The trains currently travel through Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road stations and through St Werburgh's and Ashley Down. The Liberal Democrats are campaigning against Labour's plans to build a whole new generation of nuclear power stations, in favour of investment in more renewable forms of energy generation.

Cllr Sue O'Donnell will ask the following questions at full council on September 12th:

Q1: How many trains travel through my ward (Temple Meads, Lawrence Hill railway and Stapleton Rd railway stations) carrying nuclear waste every week?

Q2: How long are these trains expected to keep running through this densely populated area?

Q3: If there was an accident or terrorist attack what are the evacuation plans?

Q4: After what period of time would residents be allowed back into their homes?

Q5: As the Government are planning even more nuclear power generation at the existing Nuclear power stations, do you know what these will mean to the train frequency and any safety plans?

Q6: Do you share my concern over the transportation of nuclear waste through Bristol?

Stephen Williams MP will be signing the following Early Day Motion (tabled by his Lib Dem colleague Sarah Teather and MP for Brent East where the incident occurred) at the earliest opportunity. (N.B. EDMs cannot be signed during parliamentary recess).

That this House notes with concern the security risk posed by the transportation of nuclear waste by train; notes the Greenpeace investigation which revealed that these trains pass through major towns and cities across the United Kingdom, including inner London; expresses alarm that a Daily Mirror journalist was able to gain access to a Brent goods yard to plant a fake explosive on a train carrying radioactive material; and calls on the Government to cease all transport of nuclear waste through Brent until a full investigation has been made and proper security measures installed.

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