Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Tony Allen - Global Village Idiot
Tony Allen being arrested following a rant at Speakers' Corner in 1979. Photo: Phil Wolmuth.

Lofty Tones

Tony Allen, Global Village Idiot, states his case for suing Nirex.

Squall 15, Summer 1997, pg. 39.

By the same logic that smokers are now suing tobacco companies who advertised cigarettes knowing them to be dangerous to health, I reckon I’ve got the makings of a case against Nirex, the company that was employed by the Tory Government to persuade us that the safest site for a nuclear waste dump must be a deep hole underneath the British Nuclear Fuels plant at Sellafield, West Cumbria.

Nirex have recently been forced to admit that they were wrong and that any site in this part of the country was a crap idea. A lot of honest people with sound arguments and tight evidence continually told them so, citing dodgy rock formation and chaotic subterranean waterways posing the risk of eventual radioactive drinking water. These arguments were good enough for me and I demonstrated, scrawled graffiti and played benefits in support of the anti-Nirex campaign; and if there was any justice I’d be up for some compensation for all that time and energy I wasted on political action.

My gripe is that Nirex always knew they were wrong but chose to ignore reasoned scientific argument in favour of an overwhelming political argument - there was nowhere else. Every other possible site in the country presented problems involving a matrix of strong local opposition - in fact the second site on the hit list was in the Tory constituency of ex-environment minister John Sell-by-Date Gummer. So Nein Danke on that one.

The West Cumbria site, however, offered what no other site offered - soft locals. The relationship between the local population and BNFL at Sellafield is neo-feudal. Adjacent Whitehaven is a company town - a whole generation has been bought off. Nirex and BNFL sponsor, fund, favour or feed everything from the family planning clinic to the funeral parlour.

When the end finally comes we won’t be over-run by some Saddam with an army of clones or knocked off-centre by a wayward asteroid, no, it’ll be a cocktail of apathy and pragmatism that does for us. No conspiracy - they were all just doing their jobs and obeying orders.

But even if I haven’t got a decent case against Nirex, surely Johnny and Joanne taxpayer must have; Nirex pissed away £250 million in ten years with their futile drilling operation and tacky PR campaign.

Don’t be surprised to hear politicians in the new parliament talking down the dangers of nuclear waste: on March 24th 1997 Nirex announced a reduction in its West Cumbria activities and are now quietly touting around the country looking for a likely landfill site. Coming soon. To a back yard near you.

But in truth there’s only the secret fall-back Site 6, reckoned to be the army base at Thetford - government- owned and with very soft locals. And to trudge all the deadly nuke-goo, critical mass across country at the dead of night will take the best part of a year, road protestors, anti-nuke groups and the IRA permitting. And it will cost a further billion pounds.

Yes! In my back yard!

So let’s anticipate a modest proposal: turn the whole shebang into a cottage industry. Work-from-home security jobs for the unemployed, each with their own little lead box to look after. £10 a week on top of the dole and no JSA hassle? There’d be takers.

More soon. Check me in the Green Futures field, Glastonbury. I’ll be the one on the bike powering the sound system.

Here's more from Tony Allen...
Lofty Tones - Tony Allen discusses incendiary devices. Squall 14, Autumn 1996.