Last night, at around half past midnight, nuclear warheads with the equivalent explosive power of 42 times the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was driven through Glasgow on its way to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield, near Reading.
These nuclear warheads include conventional high explosives. So a road traffic accident would not trigger a nuclear explosion, but could cause a conventional explosion, which could scatter Plutonium dust. Plutonium is deadly if breathed in. One speck lodged in the lungs is likely to lead to cancer. It could therefore be necessary, depending on the wind, to evacuate an area of up to several dozen square miles in the event of an accident. Every surface, including topsoil and vegetation, would be contaminated as would all water. Plutonium remains lethal for 24,000 years.
These convoys are a regular occurrence. They happen around once a month. They go in both directions, as warheads have a limited shelf like, and have to be regularly commissioned and decommissioned.
There have been three known accidents involving these convoys in the past. Two warhead carriers collided in the middle of Helensburgh in Scotland. A carrier skidded on ice, ran off the road and overturned in a ditch at Dean Hill in Hampshire. And another carrier collided with a car on the A303, near Exeter. The car driver was killed.
Billions of pounds have been wasted to date on weapons that must never be used and, unless we act now, we risk wasting a further £100 billion, over its lifetime, on a new nuclear weapons system. Trident is an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power.
Former Vulcan squadron commander and current vice-president of CND, Air Commodore Alastair Mackie, has referred to Trident as Britain’s ‘stick-on hairy chest’.
Should an SNP government be elected to the first independent Scottish parliament, they will introduce a bill to remove these weapons from our country.
The prize is a better country for the people of Scotland. And that’s only 68 days away.