Minister wants to ban traffic from Sellafield
Last updated at 11:21, Thursday, 02 August 2012
THE government wants to see all cars banned from Sellafield nuclear site.
The drastic plan is to bus in thousands of workers from two huge car parks which would have to be built nearby.
The cost of the off-site parks – outside Main Gate and Calder Gate on the Seascale side of the site – is put at millions of pounds, but planning permission would be needed.
An estimated 5,000 vehicles enter and leave Sellafield every day.
The car ban plan is part of a massive security clampdown which has already seen more nuclear police armed to protect the site against potential terrorism, a new guard force to check vehicles going in and out, and at the moment construction of an extra 11-mile security fence costing an estimated £5 million.
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary has recently recruited a “significant” number of new officers licensed to carry firearms and the Mitie contractors’ guard force is said by unions to be ‘spot on’ in its security duties.
But now, in a move to intensify even further security at the UK’s most sensitive nuclear site, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) wants cars and possibly delivery vehicles banned from entering and leaving the site and it has to be done by 2014.
A park-and-ride service would see buses brought in to collect thousands of permanent and construction workers and take them on and off the site, but unions fear it will cause big problems for the present 10,000-strong workforce (although Sellafield Ltd wants to move 2,000 of them off the site).
A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd yesterday confirmed the car ban plan and proposals to build two big car parks but refused to be specific.
Final details have still to be worked out. The plans are described as a ‘government directive’ and one union official, John Tear from Unite, said: “Banning all the cars is way over the top.”
He told The Whitehaven News yesterday: “It will probably make Sellafield the safest site in the world but the least productive. Personally I don’t think it is achievable.”
Sellafield’s Unite craft convenor went on: “Security and safety is the No1 priority but this is a knee-jerk reaction from Lord Marland in the Department of Energy – he wants this done. I believe Sellafield is secure – OK, you might get a lapse or two, but these things are coming from people who spend most of their working lives in London, who have probably been up here two or three times and don’t really know the place but want to see all this extra security.
“Yes, some of it may be necessary, but it’s just not well thought-out. We should reduce the number of vehicles through moving people who don’t need to be here but if you stop vehicles getting on altogether how are we going to get people to work or get one-to-one hand-overs done on time? Some people are already working 12-hour shifts. It’s going to mean longer and longer working days.
“What’s worrying me is that at present there’s a lack of concentration on the welfare of the workforce. There’s a lot of other stuff going on which I am not at liberty to talk about but it is putting a burden on the workforce.
“A lot of issues are being raised – one is the basic right of how people choose to make their way to work.
“Sellafield workers have already lost out on assisted travel, there’s a lack of reasonable bus and train services, it’s a long enough day as it is.”
Peter Clements, for staff union Prospect, said: “It’s difficult to argue against improving security but a happy medium has to be struck. The company say they don’t want to impinge on ‘tool time’, which means that people have to get to work enough to get enough work done, but if it means having to go through extra security checks and getting bussed on to site it’s going to take longer.
“There’s also the cost of building two big car parks and the other things such as off-site accommodation for workers.
“The government and Lord Marland can shout and bawl as much as they like about security, but at the end of the day if the Treasury can’t afford the money then we won’t be getting it done. Whatever’s decided has to take into account the interests of the workforce and the community.”
David Moore, chairman of the West Cumbria Stakeholders nuclear watchdog group, said there was a risk of making life more difficult for workers.
He said: “It’s a constant upgrade of safety at Sellafield, there seems to be no end to it. There’s a lot of security being imposed on us – the site is already well protected by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the new guard force, and there’s a new security fence going up.
“Taking away all the cars seems over the top but who knows? DECC might be aware of risks that we aren’t aware of. While I welcome the strongest possible security, there’s doesn’t seem to be a joined-up plan.
“Sellafield is trying to get as many workers off site as possible but not yet in the numbers expected – it’s like halfway house. But the quicker it happens, the more cars will automatically disappear.
“The company needs to be looking at using buildings in local towns to accommodate transferred workers and that also means money being spent in the community.”
Mr Moore warned that a new car park at Calder Gate would also demand road improvements between Gosforth and Seascale which he said was already carrying about 3,000 vehicles a day.
Calder Gate has been used up to now to ease Sellafield traffic pressure but if it becomes a main access to the site there will be a lot more cars coming in via the Gosforth crossroads at Moffatt’s Corner – otherwise known as ‘Coffin Corner’ because it’s an accident blackspot.
In a statement, Sellafield Ltd said: “We keep security arrangements under continuous review to ensure they are robust and effective both now and in the future.
“We are currently making some enhancements to our physical as well as operational security arrangements to ensure they meet current and future regulatory requirements. A key workstream will involve reducing vehicle access on the site in line with arrangements at most other UK nuclear installations.
“This work is on-going and includes engagement with internal and external stakeholders including unions, local authorities and supply chain. We will continue to engage all our stakeholders including our employees as the project progresses and as the affect on individuals, groups and organisations are fully understood.”
First published at 11:05, Thursday, 02 August 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
How about brand new mono-rails to transport workers in. Connections could be central in every village and town, and all workers from as far away as Carlisle could travel to work in under 30 mins. Magic - no need for cars then.
If it's essential for safety reasons, then it's going to happen whether you like it or not so why worry!
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