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Sunday 26 September 2010

Nearly The Big Bang

Berkshire. The county of the commuter belt. West of Reading, there are pleasant villages and middling towns: Newbury, Theale, Hungerford, Bedwyn are all conveniently situated and desirable places for City workers to live. And then there is Aldermaston.

The “Ban The Bomb” marches that were a feature of the 1960s targeted Aldermaston with good reason: the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site is used for the manufacture and storage of nuclear warheads, although of course, Government confirmation of this, and of the numbers involved, are both elusive.

So the inhabitants of all those desirable residences around the area might not have been too happy to read the news that there was a fire at the site, severe enough to require the Berkshire fire service to call for assistance from as far away as London. And the blaze is not one of those events from decades ago that has only come into view under the fifty year rule.

This fire happened as recently as August this year. It broke out in an area where quantities of high explosive are routinely stored. It raged for nine hours. Moreover, at first the AWE declined to call in outside help, and at least two fire service vehicles were initially prevented from gaining access by security officials.

All this happened where the local council has approved the construction of a facility for producing a new generation of nuclear warheads. Were I a local resident, I would by now be seriously concerned. Because if just one nuclear warhead went off as a result of what “Blaster” Bates once called “sympathetic detonation”, there would not be much left of the site, or the surrounding area to a distance of several kilometres.

Given the effect on house prices, one wonders why it’s not made the front page of the Daily Mail.

[My thanks to a Zelo Street regular for the heads up]

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