Sunday, 15 September 2013

Nuclear Accident Waiting To Happen

The anti-nuclear weapon brigade always make the same arguments about Britain maintaining a nuclear arsenal, mostly that they are very expensive and outdated as the biggest threats we use are not other countries but terrorists who nuclear missiles are useless against.
What is never considered is the threat that just having them around us poses to us as an article in the Guardian newspaper highlighted today.
A 1970 study by one of America's nuclear weapon laboratories stated that at least 1,200 weapons were involved in accidents in America between 1950 and 1968.
The most dangerous both happened in 1980, the first happened when one of the engines on a B-52 bomber caught fire while carrying four hydrogen bombs and eight short-range missiles with nuclear warheads. A strong wind kept the flames away from the weapons and a fireman climbed into the burning plane, put out the fire, and averted a disaster.
Days later a technician dropped a tool in the silo of an intercontinental ballistic missile, struck the side of the missile, pierced the skin and caused a fuel leak. The missile exploded but the warhead failed to detonate.
A 1992 a report by the Ministry of Defence, claimed that 19 accidents had occurred with British weapons between 1960 and 1991.
These accidents included an American B-47 bomber veering off the runway and slammed into a storage igloo containing Mark 6 atomic bombs. The aircraft careered through the igloo and exploded just beyond the igloo bank which was described as a miracle by bomb disposal officers.
Another bad accident occurred in 1961 when the under-wing fuel tanks of a US F-100D fighter were accidentally jettisoned when the pilot started the engines. The fuel tanks hit the runway and ruptured, igniting fuel and engulfing in flames the hydrogen bomb mounted beneath the plane. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire before the bomb was badly damaged.
The worst accident to occur during the handling of nuclear weapons in the UK happened in 1987, when an RAF truck carrying two hydrogen bombs swerved and went off the road and skidded on to its side. An RAF truck behind it, carrying another two bombs, went off the road, too.
The closest we have come to blowing ourselves up came in 1962 when the two retrorockets on a missile suddenly fired while undergoing a routine check. After a suitable amount of time, the workers returned to find that the missile's nose cone, containing the warhead, had miraculously not been dislodged.
Maybe the CND should be making the argument that keeping our nuclear weapon deterrent around is more dangerous to our own health than to than of Russia or North Korea.


Nog said...

Getting rid of nuclear weapons generally is one thing. Killing people is bad. Things that are designed to kill a bunch of people are really bad. Getting rid of nuclear weapons generally is a a noble goal.

But it seems like you Europeans always come up with some seemingly innocent reason (i.e. health, public safety, the environment) why you should have a policy (i.e. getting rid of your nuclear weapons) that results in you free riding on American taxpayers. I'll wager a bundle that if we suddenly decided to decommission our carriers and our ICBMs, the UK and France and Germany would get back into the business of carriers and ICBMs.


Lucy said...

You rumbled us, it was never about safety, expense or the environment, it was all about fleecing American taxpayers. Now it's out in the open, who do i see about you guys paying my TV license?

Anonymous said...


the brits have never seen russia or the ussr as a threat. but then they didn't see germany as a threat even when they rolled into the Balkans...


Lucy said...

I don't know about not seeing the Soviets as a threat, back in the 80s we did quite a bit of 'what to do in the event of a nuclear explosion' and i must have seen 'when the wind blows' every year at school.