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Oak Ridge really isn't a counterpart to Aldermaston, I don't think.

Oak Ridge enriches uranium. Aldermaston designs and manufactures warheads; Los Alamos and Livermore labs design the US warheads, and they are manufactured at Pantex (Oak Ridge does neither). Maybe I'm just splitting hairs... --Fastfission 03:59, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

AWE Aldermston builds warheads using plutonium previously produced at Sellafield nuclear power plant in the 1970s to 1990s. AWE has a huge stock of Pu taken from the Chevaline warheads withdrawn from service on the Polaris submarine fleet in the early 1990s. Although a tiny amount of Pu is under IAEA Safeguards at Sellafield,the MoD will not send its Pu stockpile back to Sellafield to add into the Safguards regime. Neither will it have it inspected on the AWE site. It is therefore available to the military and used to build the occasional Trident warhead to keep up the workforce skills. It is also available if a follow-on-to-Trident warhead is built.

Note: Anybody discussing the article here, could you type four ~ characters after your comment to leave your name please. Also, please try to provide sources for any statements that are likely to need them. Thanks. Paddyohale 13:10, 27 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Having read this article again, I'm thinking of rewriting it article in a more logical fashion over the summer, as it seems a bit messy and badly structured. Could anyone with anything to add post the link in here please? Cheers. Paddyohale 09:39, 2 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Good idea, it is a bit of a mess of accumulated facts. The official AWE website historical timeline, which I've just added to external links, seems pretty good and fair, and I think warrants close study. It even admits bluntly "The [US-UK] Agreement permitted an exchange of classified information which effectively would allow British delivery systems to be fitted with warheads based on American designs", so seems largely spin-free though quiet on costs. Maybe thier 50th anniversery book [1] would be a good source. Another good background source would be the National Archives selection policy Nuclear Weapons Policy 1967-1998, which is useful for accurate dates and an indication of costs. Rwendland 11:39, 2 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]
The problem is that most information regarding what goes on inside the facility is almost certainly classified, with only general overviews released by the Government. There are also Discoveries (the AWE Journal) that provide bits of information, but I'm not sure if these are publicly available outside the base. I'm not sure if they still distribute copies of AWE Today, a kind of newspaper about the company, like I think they used to (years ago). I suspect most information could be taken from the AWE site and certain government sites, although Aldermaston is actually a government owned-contractor operated site.
One also has to consider the OSA when writing this, so all facts will have to be referenced. I believe there were references to Aldermaston in Hansard last summer, so I can try and have a look at those too - there was a decision to give AWE an extra £1bn over three years, which was announced in Summer 2005.
Paddyohale 14:00, 3 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

U.S. staffing and independent nuclear power doubts[edit]

I've reinserted the paragraph noting U.S. staffing contribute to doubts if UK is really an independent nuclear power. Note the paragraph doesn't say UK is not an independent nuclear power, just notes one of several sources that express these doubts; it is a factually correct paragraph I believe. Up to the 1980s I doubt any non-British citizen would be security cleared for any significant position in the UK nuclear weapons programme; to have the MD of the AWE operating company a U.S. citizen is a notable change to those days worth noting. We probably have few nuclear secrets from the U.S. now. Rwendland 16:43, 3 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The paragraph is based on the arguement that American citizens being employed "contribut[es] to doubts that the UK's nuclear deterrent is truly independent of the U.S." I'm sorry but that's conjecture. Also I have problems with the two sources given:
  1. The first, while pretty thorough proof that the UK nuclear deterrent is not independent, focuses on the Trident missiles, not AWE's warheads. Hence it would be excellent to argue the point at Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom.
  2. The Lockheed source is five years old.
The employment of US citizens (2.7% of the total) is not definitive proof that the UK's nuclear deterrent is any less independent than if 100% of AWE staff were British. Mark83 18:12, 3 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Here's a different way of rephrasing the above (ahem):
"The employment of US citizens (2.7% of the total) is not definitive proof that the UK's nuclear deterrent is any more independent than if 0% of AWE staff were British. "
The issue is OBVIOUSLY not the proportion of the workforces that is of a particular nationality (otherwise cheap immigrant labour would own half the UK AND the US), but who works for a particular job role (the key to American DOMINION). Perhaps some (probably non-classifed information) concerning the typical hierarchical organisation of at least *some* of the Aldermaston workforce might be useful (certainly nothing technical, just an indication of how much power the Americans have in determining the course that technological development takes. For example, do the Americans ever get the opportunity to increase the likelihood of technological dependency upon either what they produce, or their skills?). Tonymartin234567 19:20, 7 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
And here's a a way of summarising the above: Yet more conjecture! Mark83 00:15, 8 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Not exactly. In essence - I was merely stating that the correct (or, at least, more reasonable and rational) point to make wasn't the proportion of the workforce that has a particular nationality (or indeed, a particular IQ), but the types of positions that particular nationalities are likely to be employed within. For example, if all the cleaners are from Africa, this really isn't an issue (assuming that they don't clean *inside* the nuclear warheads, et al....). If all your technicians are changing the toilet roll, then you are going to have problems. These issues aside - I was not making a conjecture - just pointing out that the correct statistic should be something else.

Tonymartin234567 19:20, 8 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Issues affecting local residents[edit]

I think this article should include more information about the issues this site causes due to its proximity to residential population, rather than just mentioning that it is nearest town is Tadley, it is virtually IN Tadley. There is private housing and business premisis directly accross the road from the site, probably not more than 50 metres from one of the sites entrances. Local radiactivity and other obvious issues has been a big concern of residents local to AWE, although the AWE publishes leaflets claiming that radioactivity levels are lower at Aldermaston than the naturally occuring level in Cornwall.

Their leaflets also detail emergency procedures, automated telephone early warning systems to every local home and business, etc.

The site is linked by underground tunnel to the Burghfield site and Greenham Common air base, which used to be the main method of transporting ordanance. It is now transported above ground as a moving convoy with heavy police and fire service escort blocking roads, roundabouts etc to ensure the convey never comes to a standstill during transportation.

There are frequent CND demonstrations/camps on the 'lawn' outside the sites east entrance.

The site was once the subject of an episode of the Mark Thomas Product, where he hired a mobile tower crane, parked it outside the site to film the goings on within the site(on the surface at least) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs). 08:16, 4 October 2006

Not really worth creating an 'issues affecting the locals" section. Tadley is to some extent a "company town", and a large proportion of the locals have direct or indirect knowledge of what actually goes on 'inside the wire' as they call it. They know that the place is very unlikely to produce any form of 'disaster' which could affect anybody outside the fence. Therefore most of them are quite at ease or ambivalent to the proximity of AWE, and are probably happier living next to it than they would be to other types of large industrial complex, such as a refinery/oil storage depot or chemical plant. In fact the thing that they probably resent the most is the traffic chaos that results when outsiders come dressed in silly 'radiation suits' to be filmed doing the 'dying fly' during routine scheduled tests of the site incident alarm system. As the business end of AWE is (reassuringly) securely behind multiple layers of heavily-guarded barbed wire, people fill their 'knowledge vacuum' with ill-informed conjecture about what actually happens there. In fact, the only things worth knowing that you cannot glean from AWE's own public website are those facts which are simply 'secret'. :-). MaxieT 15:31, 5 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Just to say, I live about 400 yards from the site (and have done for the past 18 years), and have never heard anyone ever say "inside the wire", be it kids or adults. And regarding people's thoughts about the plant, most people go on the basis of, "well if something does go bad, I'm gonna die 0.0000001 seconds before you" --Scuzzmonkey 20:21, 27 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Scuzzmonkey, I totally agree with the 'inside the wire' claim and therefore have removed it until someone can justify it's presence. Just to note, the rest of the trivia section has also been removed due to lack of any real content.RaseaC 12:06, 13 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Very surprised (and slightly dismayed) at the '0.0000001 seconds' comment. It goes against my own experience of the area, and makes me wonder just what people actually think happens at Aldermaston. AWE Aldermaston is the centre for R&D and component manufacture. The actual warhead is assembled elsewhere (at Burghfield). It is fiendishly difficult to detonate a nuclear weapon intentionally, and practically impossible to detonate one accidentally. The method of doing it is a complex science in itself. The ingredients necessary for a nuclear explosion (as opposed to a criticality) are simply not brought together at Aldermaston. The only way that mass sudden death could come to the area outside the fence would be if AWE were the target of somebody else's weapon, and then it wouldn't really matter where you lived, would it?MaxieT 10:09, 2 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, but when people say nuke, or bomb, or anything to do with explosives people always assume that there is a possibility that something may (or may not) go wrong, no matter how remote. This is especially true with Project Orion (I believe that that is the name) which involves a large laser (not sure what kind) that is said to be able to recreate nuclear explosions. Now whether this is true or not (the explosion bit, the laser is being put in right this second, they've been building the shell for months and you can see it clearly from the road if you drive from Tadley to Aldermaston. As such certain "truths" have been established by the locals. What I said was however, is that is isn't that the locals expect anything to go wrong (quite the reverse) anyone that does think that moves away PDQ. Just that in the event of something happening (no matter how remote) none of us would ever know about it happening. And saying that, neither would half of Reading or Basingstoke if the rumors of our (the UK's) nuclear capacity is correct). Plus the possible "chain reaction" if it was big enough to hit AWE Burghfield. But as I said, this is all word of mouth, and things that people just believe and take to be fact. Which is what normally happens when you have a couple of thousand people living around a "secret" Nuclear Government Facility. --Scuzzmonkey 11:55, 17 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Fair enough, and I can understand how a lack of information can leave a vacuum in people's minds, which can start to fill with fear. Intelligent people are naturally curious, and if the flow of 'genuine' information is constrained, they become vulnerable to ill-informed 'gleanings', sensationalist speculation and conspiracy theories. It's only natural. I sometimes feel that AWE is often its own worst enemy in this respect, but it is largely the Government - not AWE - that sets the boundaries of what is secret, and Government officials sometimes seem to use secrecy as a tool for self-aggrandisement. BTW the Orion laser is a high-energy pulse laser, which artificially recreates (by non-nuclear means) the short-lived intense high-temperature flash of detonation. The idea being to observe how components and materials behave during the event, without the need to actually detonate a weapon (which is of course now impossible due to the Test Ban Treaty). It doesn't actually create an explosion - it just simulates the thermal conditions found during one. Orion is simply a 'new generation' of similar devices which have been operating elsewhere on the site for many years.MaxieT 15:00, 3 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]


The AWE is one of the UK's premier siesmology detectors using the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty system(CTBT) designed orignially to detect underground nuclear explotions of 20 kilotons, it is now so sensative it can detect events of 10 tonnes and detects over 500,000 events each year, it detected the Boxing Day Asain Tsunami, and at the same time it also detected that the whole of the UK landmass increased in elevation by 15mm.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs). 08:33, 4 October 2006

This is done at Blacknest, a small country house near Brimpton, a little to the West of Aldermaston. The place is totally unclassified (i.e. public knowledge), and is also used for civilian seismic science uses. MaxieT 15:31, 5 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Fair use rationale for Image:AWE.JPG[edit]

Image:AWE.JPG is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in Wikipedia articles constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 17:10, 31 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]

It may be hard to find a truly fair use image, as taking photographs from inside the facility is strictly prohibited, and from the outside all you would get is chain link fence of guards with semi-automatic rifles.--Scuzzmonkey 11:59, 17 August 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I've just uploaded an image of AWE which can be used here Image:AWE.jpg. Feel free to add it to the main article. Ivaneol (talk) 20:05, 9 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

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Nonsensical bullet point[edit]

In the section "AWE's responsibilities", the fourth bullet point does not make sense: "To develop the skills, technologies and techniques that could underpin future arms limitation treaties but do not invest in their people". Specifically, the clause "do not invest in their people" has no subject. Who is that do not invest in their people? (I am unable to correct this error because I don't know what the author was trying to say.)

Rgrayuk (talk) 09:22, 19 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]