Nuclear flights at a Highland airport breach runway safety limits and are expected to crack the asphalt surface, according to internal reports for the airport’s operator. Bombs grade uranium from the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness is being flown from Wick John O’Groats Airport to the US in 130-tonne C-17 US air force planes that are too heavy for most of the runway. The revelations – from documents released under freedom of information law – have prompted angry accusations from politicians and environmental groups that safety is being compromised to allow the flights to take place. This is denied by the Scottish Government company that runs the airport. There have been earlier allegations that Wick’s runway was too short for C-17 aircraft and that the airport’s rescue and fire-fighting capability was inadequate. The flight from the US in September landed at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, which experts say could have been to minimise the weight of fuel it was carrying for its short hop to and from Wick. Now detailed technical reports obtained by The Ferret disclose that the runway may not be strong enough to withstand the flights. Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) commissioned the US engineering firm AECOM to examine the structural suitability of Wick’s runway for C-17s, and it produced a 46-page report in October 2015.
Ferret 19th Dec 2016 read more »