Anti-nuclear protests were launched today as troubling new details emerged about 38 transport "incidents" involving radioactive materials in Britain last year, including a collision near Walsall.
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Association (NFLAA) has protested after a freedom of infomation request revealed where accidents occurred in 2011 as deadly materials were shunted around the country.
Only some details were revealed in the government's response to investigative journalist Rob Edwards's request, but limited accounts showed that almost half of all incidents took place on routes to and from Sellafield in Cumbria.
One incident saw what was described as a "minor collision" near Walsall involving materials being transported between the Sellafield reprocessing site and Hinkley B power station in Somerset.
Others involved international transport to Japan, Sweden and Spain as well as from the US to Britain, while one accident resulted in a worker receiving a "significant dose" of radiation.
In a statement the NLFAA said: "Last weekend the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) commenced the first of a long series of rail transports between Dounreay and Sellafield containing 'breeder fuels' and 'exotic fuels' of radioactive materials, including plutonium.
"The NFLAA have consistently opposed these transports and believe the material should be stored and managed safely at their point of origin.
"It has also raised a number of security and emergency planning concerns and urges the NDA to ensure each local council on the rail routes is informed of the transports.
The group added that the information provided by the ONLR was "quite inadequate" and challenged the NDA's assertion of a glowing safety record, as figures from the government-backed Health Protection Agency (HPA) show a rising trend in accidents.
In its 2011 review, the HPA reported there has been an average of 26 incidents over the last 20 years in comparison to just 17 between 1958 and 2004 - and 30 or more in each of the last four years.
NFLA chairman and Manchester City councillor Mark Hackett said: "I am concerned that accidents involving rail transports of radioactive materials are increasing.
"Given the materials' radioactive nature, the commencement of such transports from Dounreay to Sellafield across the Scottish and Cumbrian rail network needs to be reconsidered urgently.
"As a matter of principle these transports should not take place but rather the waste should be stored safely at Dounreay."
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