Saturday, 21 June 2008

1992 June - Fuck BNFL Bozo

Jane and I had a welcome day of rest after the Glasgow Zoo TV gig. The next day was 20th June, the day that there was supposed to be a protest at the Sellafield nuclear station near Seascale in south Cumbria and U2 were strongly rumoured to be taking part. An injunction had been obtained by British Nuclear Fuel Limited to prevent the protest. I had rung an anti-nuclear group asking whether the protest was still going ahead and though they did not directly say so I got the impression it was. So we decided to go down to Sellafield!

We had the local radio on as I drove and at 9am there was a report from Sellafield saying there was a protest happening on the beach and U2 were there! I pressed the accelerator and we motored on. But Sellafield is only reached by fairly minor roads and some were blocked to prevent possible protesters getting through, so it took ages to get there. By time we arrived U2 and most of the protesters were gone, only a few people were left on the beach and many others were packing away things in the car park.

Apparently U2 had arrived on the Greenpeace ship Solo which they had boarded in Workington, a town a few miles up the Cumbrian coast. They had landed at Sellafield very early in the morning when the tide was well out and they walked on the Crown land of the foreshore with other protesters. Someone worked out that BNFL did not own the foreshore, it was Crown property, and citizens are allowed to walk on it. It was a very clever way to stage the protest and not break the injunction.

We were disappointed to miss the band, but we were aware it was unlikely we'd get to see them anyway. We were very proud that they had come despite it, "getting messy" (to quote Bono),and by doing so they had given this event valuable publicity.

It was a lovely warm and sunny day so we went down onto the beach. It is actually a very beautiful long, sandy beach surrounded by lovely countryside, The cliffs of St Bee's Head to the north and the Lake District mountains to the rear and south. Such a shame about the huge nuclear station looming menacingly nearby. We noticed that there were people by the fence of Sellafield watching us with binoculars! Rather scary.

I felt that Bono could not have been there and without leaving his mark, we followed the footprints of the protesters in the sand and soon came to some sand graffiti of a no entry sign and FUCK BNFL BOZO written in large capital letters in the sand. That must have been Bono's work!

When we got back to my place later in the day U2 at Sellafield was headline news in the local paper, complete with photos of the band in white coveralls in semaphore poses! They looked ridiculous, but their point was made all the same. It was very special to me personally that they highlighted what was happening at Sellafield, that place is a bit too close to my home for comfort.

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