EXCLUSIVE: Olympics halts nuclear trains through Hackney

12:19 21 July 2011

A train transporting steel flasks containing spent nuclear fuel rods

A train transporting steel flasks containing spent nuclear fuel rods

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Trains carrying radioactive material from nuclear plants on a line through the Olympic Park and on to Hackney are to be suspended throughout the London 2012 Games, it was revealed this week.

The trains carry spent nuclear fuel rods in 30cm thick reinforced steel lead-lined flasks from the Suffolk’s Sizewell reactor along the former North London Line en-route to Sellafield, in Cumbria, to be reprocessed.

For over 30 years anti-nuclear protestors have campaigned to halt the transportation of the hazardous material by rail through the centre of London claiming it was a potential disaster risk and a terrorist target, with the Olympics heightening that threat.

Rail operators Direct Rail Services confirmed the suspension following discussions with the Olympic Delivery Authority and Magnox Ltd, which manages the nuclear plants.

It stressed the decision had nothing to do with terrorist fears explaining it was designed free up space for more passenger trains because of the increased demand during the nine week period of the Olympics and Paralympics.

“As responsible operators, we always work closely with our regulators and suppliers in all our areas of operation and making these temporary changes to our spent nuclear fuel movements will ensure that we do not impede on passenger train operators’ ability to deliver an efficient service,” said a DRS spokeswoman.

The trains currently run through the Olympic site and pass through four Hackney stations - Hackney Wick, Homerton, Hackney Central, and Dalston Kingsland.

Trains from Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, which travel through South London before meeting the north London line at Willesden, will not be suspended.

The Nuclear Trains Action Group (NTAG) - part of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament , which has been fighting to stop the trains for decades is to go ahead this Saturday with a demonstration where protestors will don radiation suits at stations along the North London Line and stage a “die-in” at Stratford at 1.45pm.

NTAG chairwoman Mary Flanagan, of Middleton Road, Dalston, said: “This is the first we’ve heard of it and we’ve been in talks with them for years. I like to think of this as a victory – we’ve been fighting hard for this. It’s a huge relief.”

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