Britain’s Colonial Nuke Stockpiles

It’s well known the United Kingdom used many of it’s former overseas colonies as bases for it’s military forces. In some nations, Britain still maintains a presence in at least 15 other nations.

In Kenya, a British Colony until it received Independence in 1963 there are still over 10,000 British Military Personal stationed.  But this question posed in the House of Commons back in November 1960 highlights the possibility of Nuclear Warheads being kept in the African nation.

Labour MP John Stonehouse at the time asked the Minister for Defence “whether nuclear weapons and warheads are now stocked at the military bases in Kenya.” Although the reply was rebutted and the answer not given – it begs the fact why the question was raised so specifically in the first place, raising the possibility that Mr Stonehouse had information that could have promoted the possibility of British Nuclear Weapons being stockpiled in it’s colonies.

Furthermore, who knows how many other nations were used as a dumping ground for never-used but deadly Nuclear Weapons? and where they are today.

south_african_nuclear_bomb_casings

Bomb casings at South Africa’s abandoned Circle nuclear bomb production facility near Pretoria. These most likely would have accommodated a gun-type nuclear package for air delivery. The URANIUM inside the warheads was enriched at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom during the 1970’s.

 

Author: David Joseph Henry

Nuclear Technology in Space

NASA, US Navy and Air Force have conducted over 27 space missions utilising radioistope power systems and radioisotope heater units in partnership with the Department of Energy.

Mission Year Agency Regions
Transit 4a 1961 Navy Earth- Navy Navigation Satelitte
Transit 4B 1961 Navy Earth – Navigation Satelitte
Transit 5-BN-1 1963 Navy Earth – Navigation Satelitte
Transit 5-BN-2 1963 Navy Earth – Navigation Satelitte
Nimbus III 1969 NASA Earth – Weather Satelitte
Apollo 11 1969 NASA Moon Surface
Apollo 12 1969 NASA Moon Surface
Apollo 14 1971 NASA Moon Surface
Apollo 15 1971 NASA Moon Surface
Pioneer 10 1971 NASA Jupiter
Apollo 16 1972 NASA Moon Surface
Triad-01-1X 1972 Navy Earth – Navigation Satelitte
Apollo 17 1972 NASA Moon Surface
Pioneer 11 1973 NASA Jupiter, Saturn
Viking 1 1975 NASA Mars Surface
Viking 2 1975 NASA Mars Surface
Lincoln Experimental Satelitte 8 1976 Air Force Earth – Communications Satellite
Lincoln Experimental Satelitte 9 1976 Air Force Earth – Communications Satellite
Voyager 2 1977 NASA Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Interstellar Space
Voyager 1 1977 NASA Jupiter, Saturn, Interstellar Space
Galileo 1989 NASA Venus, Asteroid Belt, Jupiter
Ulysses 1990 NASA Jupiter, Sun, Comets
Pathfinder-Sojourner 1996 NASA Mars Surface
Cassini-Huygens 1997 NASA Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan
Pluto New Horizons 2006 NASA Jupiter, Pluto, Kuiper Belt
Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity 2011 NASA Mars Surface

 

Quotes

“There is nothing more costly than nuclear power. Nuclear plant promotion is irresponsible at a time when no assurance exists about the disposal of radioactive wastes.  Japan should achieve zero nuclear plants and aim for a more sustainable society.”

 Junichiro Koizumi  
Former Japanese Prime Minister
28th May 2011

“The unfortunate truth is we are likely to see much more disasters. The world has witnessed an unnerving history of nuclear accidents.”

Ban Ki-moon
U.N Secretary-General
In Kiev 20th April 2011, marking the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster

 

“The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.

The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

Mikhail Gorbachev
Former Soviet Union President 2006

This stands to be the mistake of a generation. After the tremendous lead Britain has given the world by advancing legally binding emissions targets in its Climate Bill, it would be a ghastly mistake for the government to commit us to a nuclear energy policy with astronomical costs and dangers of nuclear contamination for generations to come.

Ken Livingstone
Former Mayor of London
Speaking on the UK’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations in 2008. 

“If nuclear power plants are safe, let the commercial insurance industry insure them. Until these most expert judges of risk are willing to gamble with their money, I’m not willing to gamble with the health and safety of my family.”

Donna Reed
Hollywood Actress

“For 50 years, nuclear power stations have produced three products which only a lunatic could want: bomb-explosive plutonium, lethal radioactive waste and electricity so dear it has to be heavily subsidised. They leave to future generations the task, and most of the cost, of making safe sites that have been polluted half-way to eternity.”
James Buchan
British Novelist

“There are many different kinds of radioactive waste and each has its own half-life so, just to be on the safe side and to simplify matters, I base my calculations on the worst one and that’s plutonium. Perhaps most ridiculous of all is the suggestion that we ‘keep’ our radioactive garbage for the use of our descendants. This ‘solution’, I think, requires an immediate poll of the next 20,000 generations.”

David R. Brower
Founder, Friends of the Earth

Did Nuclear Weapons tests damage our Ozone Layer?

An interesting letter appeared in the Sheffield Star back in March 2015 arguing the possibly of the Ozone Layer being damaged by decades of Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb tests -until they were banned by an international treaty. They sort of claim you’d think we’d have heard debated for years already. The science sure adds up – something New Zealand based scientists Bill Hartley has researched in depth. 

Hartley believes “Starfish Prime”, a upper atmospheric nuclear test by the U/.S that is witnessed in 1962, is partly to blame for the ozone hole.

“The light show was something unearthly and huge. For fun some weeks before, I had read Revelations, so I was shocked to see the moon glowing red in the now pink rays of light expanding from the central ball of golden light.”

He connected the event with the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s when he read Earth’s Aura – a layman’s guide to the atmosphere in which author Louise B Young discussed the destructive effects atmospheric nuclear testing could have on ozone. “This rang a very loud bell for me in that gradual depletion of ozone by chemical reactions would lead to a generalised thinning of the layer as the pollutants spread throughout the atmosphere, whereas massive nuclear blasts in the upper atmosphere would produce instant holes,” Mr Hartley said.

With the rise of the global warming phenomena everyone was overlooking the probability that the ozone hole was largely involved. Yet they were pointing the finger at fossil fuel burning emissions. After some research Hartley discovered the US tested 331 bombs in the atmosphere, six above the US and the rest above the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean with some in the South Atlantic.

Russia also tested bombs in the atmosphere above their own country. Mr Hartley believed that had produced a hole over the Arctic, which would explain the rapid ice melting in places such as Greenland.

The air had been loaded with industrially used CFCs in the fifties and sixties when the atomic testing took place.

“Thus when the nuclear bombs were detonated the huge amount of light released activated the massive release of chlorine which gobbled up a gigantic hole in the ozone.”

Of course us Greens *know* this has the potential to downplay the ever deepening causes for climate change =- and we accept there may be many factors but we cannot deny humanity’s disrespect for planet earth, by whatever means done are the factors we still have the chance to change – or at least lessen in future.

Hartley didn’t think anything could be done about the hole in the ozone layer but he thought climate scientists should add the piece of information to the puzzle.

Considering catastrophic global climate change is looking inevitable – it’s no comfort to think there’s a chance we’d already screwed up our planetary defense shield way before we even know it’s significance in protection us all from Cosmos rays.

Ironic in a way, the very thing we may have used (the awesome but unforgiving power of radioactivity) – have have lost us the only thing out there safeguarding us all from that same fate, which one way or another could lead to our ultimate extinction.

Don’t forget to duck and cover, and wear sunscreen!

David Joseph Henry

Future Nuclear Disasters: 10 Potential Catastrophic Causes

“Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said U.S. plants affected by a blackout should be able to cope without electricity for at least eight hours and should have procedures to keep the reactor and spent-fuel pool cool for 72 hours. Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem. If the spent fuel rod pools at the country’s 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the current regulations aren’t sufficient to guarantee those pools won’t boil over — exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation.”

(http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/194166/20110…)

 

Solar Flare

Earthquake 

Volcanic Eruption

Asteroid or Comet

War

Terrorism

Human Error

Computer Error

Helium Shortage 

Liquid Helium is essential for the efficient operation of many Nuclear Power facilities, most notably cooling and cooling systems that prevent a meltdown. Yet Helium in the form required exists in only finite quantities on Earth.

When the Helium is gone – it’s gone, and we may be gone too. (The Guardian: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/why-the-world-is-running-out-of-helium-2059357.html )

Climate Change

Scientists now concede that catastrophic changes in our climate die top human activity may be inevitable. We know sea-levels are rising in many parts of the world. We know our weather systems are becoming increasingly erratic and unpredictable. The exact impact of seal level rise on Nuclear Power plants is mostly uncertain but worrying none the less. In the 12970’s and 1980’s when a large number of new Nuclear Plants were build the United States, the sea level rise in future decades was predicted to be much lower. Due to the constant requirement for water to cool atomic reactors, a total of 9 U.S. nuclear plants were built within two miles of the ocean. Similar thinking has been applied to other nuclear power stations in other countries including France, China and the United Kingdom.

“As many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change. Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future. The sites include proposed new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.” (Climate State: http://climatestate.com/2015/05/19/the-impacts-of-sea-level-rise-on-nuclear-power-stations/)

Nuclear Genocide – the greatest threat

On radioactivity – I wish I had the energy to share and stress the imperative dangers we have unleashed since the splitting of the Atom less than a century ago. There are many threats facing the planet, some man-made others not so.

In terms of the most terrifying, horrific, and undoubted irreversible ecological threat – the contamination of our air, oceans, food, everything – right down to the humane genome DNA has been forever impacted by the worldwide release of radionuclides.

These highly volatile isotopes do not exist naturally (except inside the core of stars), life is not meant to be bombarded with these novel elements.

Everything in the universe is slightly radioactive to an extent, but what has been unleaded by mankind is far worse than any box Pandora opened.

List of Nuclear Accidents: in Space

There have been over a dozen serious incidents involving Nuclear Power in space. Despite aiming to provide a source of energy for various satellites and exploration probes in orbit and beyond, many have resulted in dispersals of highly radioactive materials throughout the Earth’s atmosphere.

Nukes in Space

United States

The United States has launched the most missions (at least 22 that we know about) with nuclear power sources, the most serious have been complied by Greens Against Nuclear Power below. At least three accidents resulted in the release of radioactive materials. One experimental space reactor (aboard SNAP 9-A) was launched in 1965, what remains of the stricken satellite is now in a 3,000-year orbit.

SNAP 9-A, April 1964: Launched aboard a Department of Defense weather satellite that failed to reach orbit. Reactor, as designed, released radioactive contents in upper atmosphere during re-entry and then burned. Remnants struck the Indian Ocean. Total of 2.1 pounds of plutonium-238 vaporized in atmosphere and spread worldwide.

SNAP 19, May 1968: Meteorological satellite. Nuclear fuel, 4.2 pounds of uranium-238, stayed intact and was recovered off Southern California coast and reused.

Apollo 13, 1970: Nuclear material, 8.3 pounds of plutonium-238, inside lunar module when it was jettisoned before return to Earth. Now at bottom of South Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. Sampling so far shows no radiation leak.

USA-193, February 21, 2008:  The military spy satellite malfunctioned shortly after launch,  then intentionally destroyed 14 months later. Speculation suggests “hazardous materials” and perhaps a nuclear-isotope powered reactor core were on board, and that the craft was destroyed to prevent technology falling into enemy hands.

Russia / Soviet Union

The former Soviet Union (CCCP) and Russia have both been responsible for a number of significant radiological releases into Earth’s atmosphere as a result of their space programme. Like the United States it is believe many more missions than have been revealed to the public may have launched over the years, a summary of the accidents known are as follows.

COSMOS 305, January 1969: Soviet unmanned lunar rover lost rocket power and stayed in orbit, dispersing radiation in upper atmosphere.

Soviet lunar probe, Fall 1969: Unmanned lunar probe burned up and created detectable amounts of radioactivity in the upper atmosphere. Any surviving debris from incident presumed to be on the ocean floor.

RORSAT, April 1973: Soviet satellite launch failed; reactor fell into Pacific Ocean north of Japan. Radiation detected.

COSMOS 954, January 1978: Launch failed; 68 pounds of uranium-235 survived fall through the atmosphere and spread over a wide area of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Canadian-U.S. teams cleaned up; no detectable contamination found.

COSMOS 1402, 1982: Failed launch; reactor core separated from spacecraft and fell to Earth separately in February 1983, leaving radioactive trail in atmosphere and landing in South Atlantic Ocean. Not known if any radioactive debris reached Earth surface or ocean.

COSMOS 1900, April 1988: Soviet radar reconnaissance satellite failed to separate and boost the reactor core into a storage orbit, but backup system managed to push it into orbit some 50 miles below its intended altitude.

COSMOS 1402, February 1993: Crashed into the South Atlantic carrying 68 pounds of uranium-235.

MARS96, November 1996: Disintegrated over Chile or Bolivia, possibly spreading its payload of nearly a half pound of plutonium.

Kosmos 1818,  4 July 2008:  An object hit and cracked a coolant tube which formed part of  the 1987 launched military satellite’s (highly-enriched) uranium oxide-powered TOPAZ reactor. The craft shattered into pieces, some are still being tracked.

Other Countries

Its not known if any other of nations that may have utilised nuclear technology as part of their space programmes, however if it hasn’t already happened it may be a real possibility in future. With the emergence of new global superpowers, who have both nuclear weapons and nuclear energy resources such as China and India currently expanding their expansion of their own military and scientific missions. Iran and North Korea also have the ability to put nuclear technology into space although it’s doubtful if they would any-time soon.

Sources: WikiPedia, NASA, Christian Science Monitor, International Atomic Agency, Greenpeace

See also:  List of Nuclear Accidents: at Sea (coming soon)