For 30 years Martin Forwood, who has died of cancer aged 79, was a thorn in the side of the huge Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria. With his unrivalled collection of original documents on the nuclear industry he was a more reliable source of information to journalists and campaigners than the government-owned industry British Nuclear Fuels, or anyone in Whitehall. But Martin was not just an armchair campaigner; he went in for many imaginative direct actions, including, in 2003, chaining himself to a railway line to halt a nuclear waste shipment from Italy destined for Sellafield. When he came up in court charged with a Victorian-era offence of obstructing the railway, which carried a potential sentence of life imprisonment, the judge acknowledged his sincerity, reduced the charge and fined him. Afterwards he collected some radioactive mud from the Esk estuary near Sellafield, fashioned it into something resembling a mud pizza and delivered it in a lead-lined suitcase to the Italian embassy in London. It was taken away by the Environment Agency, which tested it, found it was indeed radioactive and eventually, forced by its own regulations, returned it to Sellafield to be disposed of in the Drigg low level waste depository. On another occasion, donning a wetsuit on a dark night, Martin swam out to a nuclear waste ship anchored in Barrow harbour, fixing industrial magnets to the keel to show how vulnerable the ship was to terrorist attack. Next day he rang the harbour master to tell him about his action and navy divers removed the magnets. Security was stepped up but Martin was never charged; he suspected the authorities were too embarrassed to take things any further. For a man who had once been a servant of the state – as a detective in the Cheshire constabulary, a military policeman along the Berlin Wall, and a scientific officer for the Met Office – a career switch to undermining the establishment had previously seemed unlikely.
Guardian 16th Oct 2019 read more »