Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Sellafield bomber - more details

This is an update on my post of 14 December about the "Sellafield bomber".

Darren Morris was arrested by Cumbria Constabulary on Monday 9 December in Southey Walk, Egremont, West Cumbria after a "small, rudimentary explosive device" was discovered by bailiffs at the home he owns.

A bomb disposal squad was brought in and a 100-metre cordon put in place around the property. The device was taken away for forensic examination.

Morris disappeared for a couple of days but was found, arrested, then released on bail. A report is being prepared by the Crown Prosecution Service and will be presented when he attends Workington Police Station on January 28.

The police have sought information from BNFL and his employer, Hertel.

They told me that "they and are satisfied that terrorist law is not applicable in this case. The case is being considered under criminal law the facts of which will be self explanatory if they are aired at court."

They continued "Enquiries at BNFL have been made with regard to any potential security issues."

So what was he doing there?

According to Hertel, he was part of a team removing asbestos from Calder Hall, the world's first commercial nuclear power station, primarily used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, which is being decommissioned.

(Interestingly, the four Calder Hall cooling towers were demolished by controlled explosions as recently as Saturday 29 September 2007.)

In order to do this work he was vetted by the Defence Vetting Agency and apparently has no criminal record. His work was described as "low grade" - this work is still ongoing.

He has worked for Hertel since August 2006. Pending the investigation's results he has been suspended.

While there is a criminal investigation ongoing no one can comment further.

The Daily Mirror is the only source which says the device is "thought to be a nailbomb".

The big question is - what did he intend to do with it?

The second question that needs a response is - if he had security clearance and the device was only discovered accidentally, could he have gained further access to the site?

Calder Hall will not by now contain highly radioactive material, at least in the area Morris was working. But you do not need much radioactive material to make a 'dirty bomb'.

This incident ought to raise further disquiet about the overall danger to world security of the drive to build further nuclear power stations, let alone the quality of security at existing ones.

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