Anti-nuclear campaigners on the Millenium Bridge, Lancaster, 9 August 2023 (photo: Philip Gilligan)
On the 9th of August 2023, 78th anniversary of the dropping of the world’s second atomic bomb, members and supporters of South Lakes and Lancaster District CND, kept a minute’s silence for the 340,000 children, women and men who died as a result of the atomic bombs dropped in 1945, and for all victims of war.
Cycling in from Morecambe via Heysham and Middleton, I joined them on the Millenium Bridge where we shared readings and repeated the call for a world free from nuclear weapons. Before scattering flowers and petals from the bridge in memory of victims of war, Philip Gilligan, on behalf of the group, said:
“The bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 killed people indiscriminately by vaporising human tissue, while many survivors of the initial blast suffered years of misery because of cancers caused by radiation.”
Well-travelled banners on the Millenium Bridge, Lancaster, 9 August 2023
“In 2023, the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, whether by design or accident, would be even more catastrophic. A “limited” nuclear war involving only 250 of the 13 000 nuclear weapons in the world is likely to kill 120 million people outright and would cause global climate disruption leading to a nuclear famine, while a large-scale nuclear war between the USA and Russia could kill more than 200 million people in the near term, and cause a global “nuclear winter” that could kill as many as 6 billion people.”
Millenium Bridge, Lancaster, 9th August 2023 (photo by Philip Gilligan)
“The survival of all humanity is under very real threat. Our world needs no more disasters like Nagasaki. It needs nuclear disarmament. Nuclear weapons, including the UK’s Trident warheads, threaten our very existence. The dangers posed by nuclear weapons are great and growing. The nuclear armed states must eliminate their nuclear arsenals before these weapons eliminate us all.”
The Duke of Rothesay, with Heysham 1, steaming in the background, 9th August 2023
Cycling to Lancaster, I called in at the Duke of Rothesay where the garden was at first sunnier than the leaving photo above implies. Being in the crux of a junction dividing nuclear and caravan park traffic, from lorries to and from the Ireland and Isle of Man ferry port, it is not a tranquil place – not at least, when ferries are due. In the garden, I mused upon the numbers of people who might have been persuaded by the idealistic soft sell for nuclear power[i] given in the 1947 film, The Beginning or the End[ii]:
“In peace time, atomic energy could be used to bring about a golden age, such an age of prosperity and well-being as the world has never known.”
Heysham 1 in July 2020 – Don’t be fooled by the sunshine on the cheerful signage!
In Memory of Nagasaki[vi]
Heysham is not twinned with Nagasaki as far as I know,
yet cycling to Lancaster today, I paused at the Duke of Rothsay.
The bushy garden is not peaceful
but dark purple buddleia hides the nuclear mess below:
Heysham 1 and 2 –
toxic blots on the landscape, poisoning me as the Irish ferry lorries flow,
unceasing . . . to embark beside those twin block silhouettes of doom
imprisoned suns with waste unending.
Before this supposedly positive use (try not to laugh) of nuclear . . .
came the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima
inhuman experiment by a stamping toddler,
an unforgiveable ecstasy of power
lied about ever since
sledgehammer to crack what was already crumbling
78 years later the situation is only worse.
With the capacity to destroy the world over and over
we live on the edge of a knife
trusting to luck
and unable to learn from the past.
Near the Freeman’s Pools nature reserve, Lancaster, 9th August 2023
© Lawrence Freiesleben,
Heysham, 9/10th August 2023
NOTES All notes accessed on 10th August 2023
[iii] Even Friends of the Earth appear at first glance to go up and down on this matter – with a 2014 Guardian article theguardian.com/environment/blog/2014/sep/12/friends-of-the-earths-shift-on-nuclear-should-be-celebrated-not-denied idiotically claiming the shift away from condemning nuclear power entirely, as a sign of maturity! Another piece written five years later in 2019 by Damon Moglen (“senior strategic advisor to Friends of the Earth”) thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/437003-nuclear-power-is-not-a-viable-solution-for-green-new-deal/?rnd=1554236422 and the angle seems slightly different, maintaining that their objections are pragmatic – which doesn’t fit well with the simultaneous dismissal of nuclear power as “too expensive, too dangerous and dirty.” Is a consistently held pragmatic objection all that different to an “ideological” one? Either way, sentences like “nuclear power is a discredited and dishonest distraction”, are very faintly reassuring.
[iv] interestingengineering.com/12-of-the-most-radioactive-places-on-earth# – Number 9: “The plant [Sellafield] releases some 2.3 million gallons (9 million litres) of contaminated waste into the sea on a daily basis, making the Irish Sea the most radioactive sea in the world.
[v] “On 15 August 2019, Reactor 8 inside Heysham 2 let off a large amount of steam, with banging noises at approximately 11 pm that could be heard 7 miles (11 km) away in Lancaster. This caused alarm among local residents, and numerous calls to the police reporting “gunshots”. EDF later reported that a reactor had earlier experienced a “non-planned shutdown after an electrical fault”, and the noise was from the re-start process”. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heysham_nuclear_power_station but whatever can be hushed up about nuclear power, always will be . . .
[vi] Written in the garden of The Duke of Rothesay and read on the Millenium Bridge in Lancaster.