THESE are the first pictures of a clandestine operation to move highly dangerous radioactive waste out of Scotland by boat.
The pictures were taken amidst tight security as authorities shipped toxic nuclear cargo – dubbed Dounreay Exotics – from the port of Scrabster near Thurso to Sellafield in Cumbria in the middle of the night.
It’s the first time images of the controversial practice have emerged after it was quietly introduced over a year ago.
Trials moving the waste in 2014 by sea were deemed a success and the move was rubber-stamped by authorities.
But fears have been raised about transporting the dangerous material in the unforgiving North Sea.
Dr Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland Director, said: “Whatever method the Government chooses to transport this material, the consequences of any accident are extremely serious.
“With our history of tanker disasters, submarines crashing into rocks and even oil rigs going aground, there are clearly plenty of risks in transporting nuclear waste through the seas around Scotland.”
The cargo, transported two weekends ago, was escorted to the port by heavily armed officers from Police Scotland and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
The cargo was believed to be unirradiated uranium and plutonium, which has the highest level of security.
The material could be used as the building blocks for a so-called “dirty bomb”.
The ship used – which we are not naming for security reasons – is believed to be from the International Nuclear Services fleet, which has sailed the world for 25 year and has a flawless safety and security record.
The ship, which had armed guards on board, left the Caithness port in the early hours of the morning.
A spokeswoman for nuclear plant Dounreay said: “Dounreay is closing down and nuclear materials belonging to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are being removed.
“Our priority at all times is to comply with regulations governing the safety and security of nuclear materials in storage and in transit.”
It comes six months after we revealed problems with flying nuclear waste from Scotland to the US amid problems about the size of the airstrip at Wick John O’Groats Airport in Caithness.
Transport chiefs have turned to re-routing the C-17 Globemaster jet to RAF Lossiemouth in Moray to fill up its tank before heading to the States.