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Shell’s Nuclear Past

Corporate Watch: Shell’s Nuclear Past

“So close was their relationship with the nuclear establishment that the Division of Atomic Energy at the erstwhile Ministry of Supply was based at Shell-Mex House”: “Shell’s press department has been singularly reluctant to help us with this research.”: “They cannot tell us why they still own a share-holding in Ultracentrifuge Nederland BV, the holding company that owns 33% of the uranium enrichment company, Urenco.”

Posted 21 Oct 04

Corporate Watch has some new findings to report on Shell’s past involvement in the nuclear industry.

Documents from the Public Records Office at Kew filled in more of the early history. File AB16/1856 is a series of letters and documents concerning Shell’s early nuclear ambitions from the early to the late 1950s. It shows that Shell successfully negotiated deals to supply heavy water and nuclear grade graphite to the UK’s nuclear industry. It also reveals Shell’s ambitions to develop nuclear reactors for ship propulsion and that they sent at least one scientist to the UKAEA’s “Reactor School” at Harwell as part of that project. So close was their relationship with the nuclear establishment that the Division of Atomic Energy at the erstwhile Ministry of Supply was based at Shell-Mex House. AB 16/1856 details some of their activities from 1950 to 1959. The file is suggestive of ongoing programmes, but we have no information on activities between 1959 and 1973 (when they took a 50% share in reactor manufacturer General Atomic – see CW Newsletter 16).

Shell’s press department has been singularly reluctant to help us with this research. In spite of their repeated promises to conduct research into this area, some questions have only been answered after continual prompting, and others not at all. “It was a long time ago,” is their customary refrain. We do not know what became of Shell’s ambitions to manufacture marine reactors. They cannot tell us why they still own a share-holding in Ultracentrifuge Nederland BV, the holding company that owns 33% of the uranium enrichment company, Urenco. And they still cannot say whether the matters we have brought to their attention cover the whole of their nuclear interests past and present.

Any new leads or documentation would be gratefully received.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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