For Immediate Release
Tom Clements Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator
Friends of the Earth
Energy Department Forced to Release Photos of Trucks Used to Transport Nuclear Bombs and Components and Nuclear Weapons Materials
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Friends of the Earth announced today it has used the Freedom of Information Act to force the U.S. Department of Energy to release color photos of the special trucks that transport nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons components and "special nuclear material" such as plutonium and highly enriched uranium. It is believed that these are the first nuclear bomb truck photos released by the Department of Energy in recent years.
"The trucks carrying nuclear weapons and dangerous materials such as plutonium pass through cities and neighborhoods all the time and the public should be aware of what they look like," said Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator with Friends of the Earth in Columbia, South Carolina. "Release of these photos will help inform the public about secretive shipments of dangerous nuclear material that are taking place in plain view."
Two photos of "Safeguards Transporters" were released on August 31 to Friends of the Earth by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Service Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The release was made in response to a July 11 Freedom of Information Act request concerning the shipment of plutonium from the Department of Energy's Hanford site to its Savannah River Site. Shipments of weapons-grade plutonium oxide from Hanford to Savannah River were recently concluded via these trucks.
According to the Department of Energy, each Safeguards Transporter, operated by the Office Secure Transport, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a "specially designed part of an 18-wheel rig that incorporates various deterrents to prevent unauthorized removal of cargo. The trailer has been designed to protect the cargo against damage in the event of an accident." And, "The thermal characteristics of the [transporter] would allow the trailer to be totally engulfed in a fire without incurring damage to the cargo. The tractors are standard production units that have been modified to provide the federal agents protection against attack. Escort vehicles accompany the tractor-trailers during transportation activities."
A photo was previously taken of such trucks and their escort vehicle in April 2005 as a convoy was leaving the Charleston, South Carolina Naval Weapons Station with four fuel assemblies of experimental plutonium fuel (MOX), destined for the Savannah River Site and then on to Duke Energy's Catawba reactor, for a failed test of that fuel. That photo, taken from the right-of-way by Tom Clements, is available on request. Until the Department of Energy's release of these photos, that picture was the only known public photo taken of a Department of Energy nuclear transport truck in the last decade or more.
1. Nuclear Bomb trucks and DOE FOIA response letter available on request. Photos and letter in e-mails from NNSA can be forwarded to validate source.
2. For an Office of Secure Transport fact sheet, see: http://www.doeal.gov/laso/Documents/EPIOTSfactsheet.pdf
3. For a National Nuclear Security Administration (NSSA) - the nuclear bomb division of DOE - website on "Secure Transportation," see http://nnsa.energy.gov/defense_programs/2181.htm
4. See Nuclear Watch South website - http://www.nonukesyall.org/ - for September 2 news on setback to DOE's plutonium fuel (MOX) program. See link to "Plutonium Truck Photos" on the right.
Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.