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The nuclear flasks that could explode

Issue No. 1691

On a rail line near you

The nuclear flasks that could explode

ANOTHER SCANDAL has hit British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL), owner of the crisis-ridden Sellafield nuclear plant. Flasks used by BNFL to carry deadly radioactive material around the country could explode, causing nuclear disaster. Research by French scientists found that the flasks were only able to resist fire for less than three minutes. The flasks transport uranium hexafluoride, or "hex"-used to make fuel for nuclear power stations.

As well as being radioactive, hex reacts with air to produce hydrofluoric acid. This is a gas which can destroy the lungs. BNFL transports hex to Russia, the United States and Europe from its Springfield nuclear plant in Preston. Train lines across the country carry this deadly cargo around Birmingham and through north London.

This is another example of nuclear bosses' complete disregard for safety. Edwin Lyman of the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington said, "This report raised disturbing questions about the credibility of industry safety assurances."

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Sat 8 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1691
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