Trains carrying highly radioactive nuclear waste which normally pass through the Olympic Park are to be suspended for the duration of the Olympics, in a move long called for by anti-nuclear campaigners. Despite this decision, the trains are due to return after the games, bringing with them the risk of an accident or terrorism contaminating some of the most densely populated areas of East and North London, says the Campaign for Nuclear Disemament (CND)
The risks to these trains have been highlighted a number of times. In 2006, a Daily Mirror journalist planted a fake bomb on a nuclear waste train stopped in a London depot to show how vulnerable the trains are to a terrorist attack.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "We welcome this temporary suspension, but resuming these deadly shipments after the Games is no solution. These trains routinely put Londoners at risk, with hazards from potential accidents as well as terrorism. Even ahead of the Games, moving the necessary ingredients for a 'dirty bomb' through the site is a risk just not worth taking.
"The Government plans two new nuclear plants in the South East which would mean decades more of these toxic cargoes passing within metres of houses, schools and hospitals. The consequences of an incident involving the highly radioactive spent fuel rods on these trains could affect hundreds of thousands of people. This is yet another reason why dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power is not the answer to climate change."
The operator of the trains, Direct Rail Services - a company wholly owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - has claimed the the suspension is not security-related but to free up track space. Whilst extra services are due to run on the Great Eastern Main Line which approaches Stratford from the north-east, CND says it has seen no evidence that extra Olympic services are to be run on the North London Line which connects the Olympic Park to inner north London and which would take the nuclear trains across the capital.
The spent nuclear fuel rods, sent from the Sizewell B plant in Suffolk to Sellafield are routed across the North London Line of the London Overground, passing through Stratford, Hackney, Islington and Camden on their way to the West Coast Main Line at Willesden Junction.