NAG for zero emissions

Nuclear Awareness

What's going on at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and Burghfield?

  • 2012-09-28 09:47


    NAG Public Meeting

    From Fukushima to Reading: Public Protection or public whitewash?

    Guest speaker: John Large (international consultant on nuclear safety)

    Chaired by Paul Gittings, Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate change, Reading Borough Council


    Wednesday 31 October 2012

    7.00 pm - 9.00 pm

    Reading International Solidarity Centre

    35 - 39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS

    Organised jointly by Nuclear Awareness Group and Reading Peace Group

    All welcome - admission free



    The Fukushima nuclear disaster has exposed serious shortfalls in nuclear emergency planning arrangements.  In the light of the Fukushima crisis, independent nuclear safety consultant John Large has analysed emergency planning arrangments for the Atomic Weapons Establishment - the factory where the UK's nuclear weapons are made, barely ten miles from the major urban centre of Reading.

    Just how safe are we?  Join John Large for an evening of discussion and debate on the risks that the nuclear industry poses to the public.

    All welcome - admission free.

    Organised by Nuclear Awareness Group and Reading Peace Group.

    Follow by brief NAG Annual General Meeting.

  • 2012-01-07 16:28


    At the end of November the Ministry of Defence (MoD) submitted a planning application to West Berkshire Council for construction of a Technology Development Centre at AWE Aldermaston.  The Centre is being built as part of the UK's contribution to a joint UK – France warhead research programme known as 'Project Teutates'.

    The Technology Development Centre will develop radiographic instrumentation for monitoring and analysing the results of hydrodynamics research experiments which will be conducted at a new joint research facility at Valduc in France.  The Aldermaston and Valduc facilities are both scheduled to commence operation in 2015.

    As is usual for planning applications submitted for AWE sites, information necessary to judge the risks posed by the development will be withheld from the public.  A direction issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government allows the MoD to submit a limited environmental appraisal document to the local planning authority instead of undertaking a full environmental impact assessment.

    The Technology Development Centre will design giant high power flash X-Ray machines for taking high speed photos of changes in materials during experiments which mimic the behaviour warhead components and mock-ups during a nuclear explosion.  AWE has developed considerable expertise in such technology, based on Inverted Voltage Adder equipment, over many years of hydrodynamic research using existing facilities at Aldermaston.

    The planning application is expected to be determined by West Berkshire Council's Eastern Area Planning Committee in late January / early February 2012.  You can have your say by visiting the West Berkshire planning applications website (warning – not easy to use!) or by writing to:

    Planning Department
    West Berkshire Council
    Council Offices
    Market Street
    RG14 5LD

    You should quote  application reference 11/02557/COMIND in your letter.

  • 2012-01-07 15:38

    Much of our recent work has been about highlighting the potential risks from low-level radiation. This video, presented by Dr Jeffrey Patterson of Physicians for Social Responsibility, gives an excellent overview of some of the issues associated with low-level radiation.


  • 2011-10-24 14:24
    Latest update from NAG including news from the Atomic Weapons Establishment, details of the Ministry of Defence's submarine dismantling consultation, and our analysis of the Weightman Review of the UK's nuclear safety.
  • 2011-02-15 21:01
    The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has submitted a new planning application to West Berkshire Council for a warhead components manufacturing facility at AWE Burghfield.  The planned conventional manufacturing rationalisation facility (CMR facility) will play a key role in the future of the UK's nuclear weapons programme.  Please write to West Berkshire Council with your views on this application.
  • 2011-02-15 20:56

    David Griffiths from the Environment Agency's Nuclear Regulation Group was our guest at the spring 2011 NAG meeting to reveal the untold story of how radioactive discharges from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) have reduced over the last forty years.  Using data from AWE and the Ministry of Defence which has never before been presented in public, David gave a fascinating presentation about efforts to drive down the levels of radioactive material released from AWE sites. (A copy of the Powerpoint slideshow with graphs and illustrations used during the talk is available to download at the bottom of the page).

    David began by explaining that the Environment Agency has the responsibility of regulating discharges from nuclear licensed sites in England and Wales, but that at many of these sites there are as many non-nuclear environmental hazards posed by chemicals and wastes as there are nuclear hazards.  These are also controlled by the Environment Agency, which also has a role to play in advising site operators on construction programmes, flooding issues, and reducing resource usage.

    The Agency's aim is not just to ensure that site operators comply with permitted discharge limits, but also to drive down the quantity of radioactive materials released to the environment by securing improvements to production processes and equipment.  AWE has made good progress in this respect over recent years and, according to David, “is probably the closest to achieving zero discharges than any other operator in the sector”.  Since the 1960s the nuclear industry has changed from being largely unregulated to a very heavily controlled and closely monitored industry,  with pressure for improvements in recent years driven by the European Union, the Ospar Treaty, and a 'best practicable environmental option / best available technology' approach to regulation.

  • 2010-09-08 10:29
    NAG has submitted an objection to the 'Project Hydrus' planning application at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.  The application is expected to be determined by West Berkshire Council on 29th September 2010.
  • 2010-08-24 12:20
    NAG has written to the Planning Inspector who will be conducting the Boundary Hall public inquiry to give our views on development in the vicinity of Atomic Weapons Establishment sites.  Public safety must come first, according to NAG, and the Inspector should turn down the application for a proposed housing development close to the AWE Aldermaston perimeter fence on the Boundary Hall site.  To read more about our views and find out how you can submit your views to the inquiry please click on the link above.
  • 2010-05-05 15:20
    Latest update from NAG including news of planning issues around AWE, Radioactive Waste and notes from Dr Ian Fairlie's talk.
  • 2010-02-13 16:16
    Our special guest at our spring 2010 meeting was Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent concultation on radiation and the environment.  Dr Fairlie spoke about the German KiKK study into the relationship between childhood cancers and nuclear power stations, and also the risks posed by radioactive tritium.  Click on the link above to find out more.