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Action at Featherstone

Readers may recall from previous editions of CADU news that the Royal Ordnance factory at Featherstone near Wolverhampton in the Midlands was the subject of some attention when a serious fire affected DU stored there. The factory is one of the few places in this country where DU is produced, and it is owned by British Aerospace - a company which has long been subject to opposition from concerned people due to its manufacture and sale of weapons to dictators and oppressive regimes.
A couple of months ago, a peace walk initiated by Trident Ploughshares (a campaign to openly and accountably disarm Trident nuclear submarines) and Nipponzan Myohoji (a Buddhist order with established peace pagodas), passed through the Midlands and decided to take action there. Cat Euler from CADU was there and reported the following:
'About 15 people, comprising the peace walkers, TP2000 and Buddhist people, plus some people from environmental groups and CADU, arrived at the Featherstone factory around 10.30 am. There were no security guards at the front gate, so the walkers just kept walking through the grounds until they arrived at the main office door, which they simply opened. Once into the main factory offices, workers at the factory quickly gathered and several men told them to go outside, which they did peacefully. They sat on the ground outside the main door, while several other employees gathered at a nearby window to see what was going on. The Royal Ordnance Speciality Metals factory is in a very out-of-the-way rural location, near a prison, and I don't think they have had this much excitement there since the fire in February 1999, during which several pounds of DU scrap were burnt together with some nearby pallets.
A spokeswoman for the group asked to see the factory manager, but a shop foreman said he wasn't in, and that he was the highest-ranking person on site at that moment. He was very congenial and was glad to listen to the questions put to him about operations there, but, with a friendly smile on his face, repeated "I'm sorry we can't reply to that." "Have any surveys about workers' health been done here?" "I'm sorry we can't reply." "What calibre weapons do you produce here?" "I'm sorry we can't reply to that," "Do you make DU weapons here?" "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that," etc. etc. He agreed to take some literature and show it to other employees. One protester told him the main danger wasn't from the DU in the form he had it when machining it, but rather when it burned and became insoluble and inhalable. He quickly replied, "Yes, yes, it is pyrophoric, we know, we are very well briefed." At least that was a confirmation of sorts that they do deal with DU on the premises!
After about twenty minutes, seven police cars arrived to "deal with" the still seated 15 protesters, and announced that if people didn't leave the premises, they would begin to arrest. After carefully explaining what we were doing there to them, and handing out literature to some very interested policemen (they hadn't been informed about the radioactivity hazard of the fire either), the walkers proceeded peacefully on their way, and there were no arrests.

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From CADU News 4: Autumn 2000

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