Hidden Human Cost of Trident
Blackaby Paper 7, October 2007
The 7th in a series of
occasional papers on defence and disarmament issues in memory of Frank Blackaby, by Di McDonald, Executive
Director of the Nuclear Information Service (
to promote public awareness and debate on nuclear weapons issues, & Jamie Woolley, sometime legal adviser to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities.
After the March 2007 UK governmental and parliamentary decision to
undertake eventual replacement of the V-class (Trident missile armed) submarine
fleet, as well as the continued upgrading of the warhead design and research
The fiscal cost of both the current and proposed replacement of Trident is a political hot potato. Figures vary, but no one doubts that if the current proposal to renew the Trident system were to go ahead, the final bill will be far higher than the figure presented in the Government’s 2006 White Paper. However, the human cost of replacing Trident is missing from the government's budget prediction. Apart from a cursory nod towards the problem of creating new nuclear waste in addition to existing legacy wastes, other costs are ignored.
· The risks to people and the environment involved in building and managing nuclear warheads are not acknowledged.
· Neither the physical health consequences of everyday exposure to ionising radiation nor the psychosocial cultural effects are there.
· No recognition is made of the resulting curtailment of human and civil rights to protest or of the lost opportunity costs.
· Nowhere are the costs of Environment Agency and Health & Safety regulators, Local Authority planners, Home Office Police, and the many other hidden costs documented together.
· However, the underlying government assumption is that all these costs - financial, environmental and human - are worth it.
Blackaby Paper 7 also contains a detailed section placing all the arguments within a firm legal context.
By concentrating on costs that the government would rather forget, the paper endeavours to show the real costs of Trident, and to question whether a civilised society can afford them.