Anti-nuclear protestors dressed as Romans visit council offices to object to proposed development at AWE
A Group of 'Romans' visited the West Berkshire Council offices bearing ‘gifts’ of radio-active waste. The Romans were, infact, members of the Nuclear Information Service (NIS), a pressure group, who are protesting against the latest development at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). Dressed in Roman gear and carrying black bins, with radioactive labels on them, they stood outside the office bringing attention to their cause.
Peter Burt, director of the NIS, said the group decided to dress up like the Romans because they left a rich history, in Britain, that people could be proud of - unlike the “poisoned” environment people of today would leave future generations.
He added: “Thousands of visitors enjoy travelling to the Roman amphitheatre and ruins at Silchester every year. “But how would it be, if instead of leaving us these fascinating historical sites, they left behind their toxic radioactive waste and a poisoned environment for us to inherit? “That is exactly what we are planning to do with the waste that will be created by AWE's Project Pegasus. Because, we have devised no method of disposing of this waste in a way which is safe and poses no risks to the environment.
“Our historical view of the Romans would be very different if they had been irresponsible enough to have left us with the expense and danger of managing their unwanted radioactive wastes, yet that is exactly what we are planning to do for the generations who follow us.”
Project Pegasus is a multi-million pound development proposed by AWE which will provide long-term capability for the storage and handling of enriched uranium, a naturally occurring heavy metal enriched for use in nuclear weapons, at the Aldermaston site.
More than 900 objections have been received and a decision about the development is due to be made by members of the eastern area planning committee in the coming weeks. A recent survey of 550 residents carried out by local environmental groups, including the NIS, showed that 60 per cent believed the development should not go ahead. Ninety per-cent said they would like information about the environmental and safety impacts of the development to be made public before permission to build the facility is given.
Mr Burt added: “Common sense says that information about the hazards faced by public should be published before a development of this nature is given the go-ahead, and, quite reasonably, a large majority of people feel that we should be told more about the risks we will face.
“West Berkshire Council should pay careful attention to the results of this survey, and should not grant planning permission until adequate information about safety and risks is provided by AWE.”
This is the speech I read out to the press:
Salvete omnes – greetings everybody.
We are Roman envoys from the nearby city of Calleva Atrebatum – or Silchester as you know it. Silchester has changed a great deal since our times – can you imagine what it was like two thousand years ago with far fewer people living locally, surrounded by forests, and with the civic buildings still intact?
We come bringing gifts to your generation from our generation. Unfortunately they are gifts you may not want. Here are all our most dangerous and unpleasant wastes, which we have been unable to dispose of ourselves. Looking after them safely will be an expensive and dangerous affair for you, I am afraid.
Do you not wish to accept these wastes? Do you think worse of us Romans for leaving you with this legacy? Yet we are doing nothing that you are not doing yourselves. The Atomic Weapons Establishment that you have built at Aldermaston near Silchester produces radioactive waste which is far more dangerous than anything we have left for you. Unlike our wastes, your wastes will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. And the new factory that you are building at Aldermaston, named Pegasus after the flying horse from the stories of Greece, will create even more of this waste for the peoples who follow you to look after.
So to your civic leaders, we say think carefully about those who will follow you and do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;Vale!
We come to bury our waste, not to praise it.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
If you want to stop AWE there is a peaceful protest and blockade planned for the 15th February.
Come and join us on 15th February at the non-violent blockade of Aldermaston, organised by Trident Ploughshares. To maximise its impact this will start at 7am, continuing for as long as possible. You can sit, lie down, lock-on or simply provide support for those blockading. We need as many people as possible to stop the work at Aldermaston and tell the government loud and clear: No Trident Replacement. See here for full details on training, accommodation and transport.