This afternoon sees me waiting for an important phone call. A friend of mine – Joan Meredith – is in Court today – being tried for her part in last year’s protests at the Aldermaston nuclear facility. She was arrested along with hundreds of others in the Big Blockade demonstration which took place last year and was organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Trident Ploughshares.
Aldermaston is the headquarters of the U.K.’s Atomic Weapons Establishment. There has been a long history of anti-nuclear demonstrations at this site. Protests began in the 1950s and 60s. The AWE is now responsible for the design and manufacture of the Trident submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile system.
Joan is a senior citizen and a grandmother – and has lost count of the number of times she has been arrested for her protests to highlight the dangers of nuclear weapons, and the linked threats inherent in the civil nuclear industry. Protesters like Joan have analysed the workings of the nuclear power industry and understand that without the civil nuclear industry – and the plutonium it produces – nuclear bombs would simply not exist.
And Joan knows a thing or two about the impact of nuclear bombs. She was fifteen and living in the U.K. when the nuclear bomb which devastated the city of Hiroshima was dropped. She says she remembers quite clearly seeing the footage on the black and white Pathe news reels in the cinema.
She was a young girl then. She was horrified at the impact of the bomb on the civilian population. We know that children on their way to school suffered greatly. You will find photographs of burned bodies and clothes in peace museums today. The Trident bombs made at Aldermaston have eight times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.
There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that without the nuclear power industry – nuclear weapons would not exist. Even without these linkages – there are other serious environmental issues to be taken into consideration. The ongoing radioactive pollution in sea, land and air caused by nuclear power plants. An internal report released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed flooding last summer which inundated dozens of buildings at the nearby Burghfield site, where warheads are finally assembled. Radiation safety alarms were disabled for 10 days after the floods. There is also the huge and difficult issue of nuclear waste disposal to consider.
I’m waiting to find out whether Joan will be sent to prison or not. I know she is prepared to go. And she’s been in prison for her witness before. I for one am glad she’s prepared to make this witness. For my children’s sake. For more details about what she said in her defence in Court see Joan’s blog. www.joanmeredithsblog.blogspot.com