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Article published 05 December 2008: Shell, Saudi Arabia, Arms-for-Oil, Corruption, & Radioactive Contamination

Related email correspondence with Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officier, Royal Dutch Shell Plc: Nov 2008

Ray Fox email to over 600 MP’s: 11/12 December 2008

Reply letter from Martin Salter MP, the MP for Reading West, the Constituency where Ray Fox resides: 19 December 2008

Follow-up article published on 2 January 2009: Royal Dutch Shell Nuclear Subterfuge

Ray Fox Reply to Martin Salter MP: 15 January 2009

Email correspondence with Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Royal Dutch Shell Plc: 14/15 JANUARY 2009 (INCLUDES LETTER TO RESIDENTS OF AMBER CLOSE & LAMBOURNE GARDENS, EARLEY, READING UK)

An Open Letter to Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics Evader & Non-Compliance Officer, Royal Dutch Shell Plc from Ray Fox: 1 February 2009

Ray Fox email correspondence with Richard Wiseman, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Royal Dutch Shell Plc: Concluding 10 February 2009 (attached correspondence)


Prof Dr Chris Busby Report 6 July 2009




Channel 4 TV "Mark Thomas' Secret Map of Britain":



"Welcome to the most polluted house in Britain..."

The dramatic introduction in a Channel 4 TV programme "Mark Thomas' Secret Map of Britain" about Ray Fox and the most polluted house in Britain. The house in Wokingham Road, Earley, Reading, is next door to an alleged buried secret nuclear reactor on a former Shell petrochemical terminal. The package includes an interview with toxicologist Dr Dick Van Steenis (who says Ray has symptoms and effects of radioactive poisoning) and with Dr Chris Busby BSc, PhD, C.Chem, MRSC, a radiation scientist. Mark Thomas states that soil tests carried out by Dr Busby at the house revealed some of the highest levels of plutonium and uranium contamination ever recorded in Britain. Busby says in the report that the unique footprint of the uranium came from a nuclear reactor. Shell was quoted as stating that no nuclear material was ever stored or processed at the site which Shell sold for a housing development without disclosing ANY nuclear history of the site.

Segment broadcast on London News Network "London Tonight" news on 18 July 2002: Reporter Sharon Thomas tells the story about alleged massive levels of radioactive contamination of Ray Fox...



Says tests revealed plutonium levels 40 times higher than normal background radiation in Rays garden. Reports that although Shell had permission to store radioactive material at the Earley Terminal next door it says that it never did so. Ray accuses Shell of a cover-up. Report includes a statement by Shell saying the licence would not have covered plutonium and said "We can state categorically that our former depot at Earley was never used by us for any purpose than the storage of conventional oil products". The Environmental Agency said that tests at neighbouring gardens showed normal background radiation.

Ealing Studios video of the Ray Fox story headlined "Suburb Poisoned By Plutonium"

Includes an interview with Dr Josef Kees who states that his tests found traces of uranium in the bloodstream and fatty tissue of Ray Fox at double normal expectancy.

Unofficial transcript of BBC Radio 4 programme: The Bunker First broadcast on 6 October 2003

Highly critical review of "The Bunker" published in "JOURNAL OF RADIOLOGICAL PROTECTION" 2003 in an article by "Richard Wakefield".



The withering review by Wakefield ends with the sentence "Disappointing journalism, though." In this connection, it is indeed disappointing to note that the author neglected to declare that he is Dr Richard Wakefield, Principle Research Scientist of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd - the expert often trotted out by BNF in the case of actual or potential claims against BNF and its predecessor, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, which as we reveal, was a partner of Royal Dutch Shell in secret nuclear projects.


Selection of pages from a related book "Wolves of Water", also authored by Dr Chris Busby BSc, PhD, C.Chem, MRSC, a radiation scientist who once studied Laser Raman Spectro-electochemistry in collaboration with Shell Research.

Published in 2006




The nuclear project, however, has left behind some dark secrets. And without sophisticated radiation measuring equipment, the exposures are invisible.

The most bizarre example is the buried Shell reactor in Reading, a large town in Berkshire. All the evidence points to the existence, several metres underneath a normal, quiet suburban housing estate, of a buried nuclear reactor, corroded and leaching its contents into the groundwater. The locals say that there is a high level of childhood leukaemia in the area; but no one really knows, as the health authority and the cancer registry will not release data to examine the assertions.

First some background. The area around Reading has a statistically significant excess of childhood leukaemia, first flagged up by the local paediatric specialist at the Reading Royal Infirmary, Dr Carol Barton.

Because of the strange influences on child leukaemia, we called this area, between Newbury, Reading and Oxford, the 'Leukaemia Triangle'. I sent a letter to the British Medical Journal and they published it! 1t was picked up by all the major newspapers and became a cause célèbre.

Enter Ray Fox
Ray Fox wrote to me sometime around 1997 to ask my advice. He sent me photographs of his body, which showed large areas of red rashes and blistering. 'Could it have been caused by radiation?' he asked, and told me his story. Ray is a short, tough-looking, but also unwell-looking character with a cockney accent, a tenacious attitude (as well he might have, given his experiences) and a kind of desperate angry energy. He lived, until recently, in Earley, near Reading, Berkshire at 337 Wokingham Road. In the mid 1990s he dug up a drain at the bottom of his garden to clear a blockage that was flooding his garden. The land drain crossing the corner of his property was blocked with some tarry black material, which Ray cleared away. Shortly after this he became seriously ill. His body became covered in what appeared to be bums and blisters. The symptoms (including other symptoms which he recounted) appeared to be those of radiation poisoning. He had urine analysis done in Germany where slightly increased levels of Uranium and Plutonium were detected. Following Ray's complaint about the drain, the plutonium and his illness, Shell immediately arranged for contractors to visit the property and dig up the drain, water jet the remaining sewer and close the system up, replacing all the material they removed with fresh soil.

There began several years of struggle to obtain an explanation for his illness and its origin, a struggle that has slowly revealed elements of what appear to be a most extraordinary cover-up - a secret underground atomic research site operated in Reading in the 1960s by the Shell Oil Company as part of a research effort into the development of atom bombs. As a result of the energy Ray put into investigating the cause of his illness, he managed to get all the evidence he had collected and all the results of the measurements that were made to the media.

Quite a few programmes were made, including prime time documentaries on TV and a BBC Radio 4 piece called 'In The Bunker', which was a highlight of the week it was broadcast and was repeated by popular demand. In this documentary, I went down a sewer behind Ray's house (where the trouble had begun) with radiation monitoring equipment, the echoing commentary as I crawled underground, kitted up in gas mask and all the measuring gear, was reminiscent of a science fiction movie sound track.

The drain Ray had unblocked was an illegal connection to the public land drain to the River Loddon draining material from the Shell 'oil depot'. I first visited he house and garden and employed our gamma spectrometer to make radiation measurements of Ray's house and garden as part of the Mark Thomas investigation on Channel 4 TV. Beta and alpha scintillation counting showed very slightly raised levels and there were slightly elevated levels of radiation, mainly gamma signals from natural Thorium 234. The house itself had slightly high levels of radiation, particularly the lower block work in some rooms, but none were high enough to be considered a health risk in themselves. Samples were taken on behalf of Ray's insurance company and sent by their advisor, Dr Karta Badsha, to be analysed by LGC in Teddington. Results showed the presence of various toxic organic chemicals and heavy metals, as would be expected from groundwater near an oil depot, but there were also some very interesting radiochemical results which connect us with the Greenham fire and the leukaemia triangle. These are shown in Table 17.2.1.

(Table is displayed on page 439 of the featured pages accessible via above link)

These measurements indicate the presence of material from a nuclear reactor for the following reasons. With regard to the Plutonium, prior to 1945 the background level of Plutonium would have been zero. Since global weapons testing the background level in soil and grassland should be about 0.02 to 0.7 Bq/kg, as measured by Cawse and Horrill in the 1970s. Since then, the sea to land transfer of plutonium from Sellafield has increased these values to about 1-2 Bq/kg and in the area near Aldermaston readings as high as 5-10Bq/kg were found in a few samples near the perimeter fence. However, in the largest analytical exercise run in the area of Berkshire, the Newbury survey of 1997, very few samples gave levels higher than 2Bq/kg. Thus the house dust sample of 4.9Bq/kg shows a level 100 to 500 times higher than expected on the basis of weapons fallout. Plutonium 239 comes from the fission of Uranium 235 in a reactor or a bomb, or from reprocessing of spent fuel.

Here is my own interpretation of it all. Having met many of the people who knew and read all the documents that have been unearthed, this Earley story is part of a larger one, which is about the cold war research into bombs.

Leukaemia clusters, cancer clusters and the Cold war

When the first research into nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and the uses of radiation generally, was being undertaken, Shell was a big player. At Earley, they were examining the possibilities associated with radiation, radioactive materials and organic solvents. This would be almost impossible for them not to have done.

The Shell site undertook research into the reactions between organic solvents and Uranium and Plutonium, to see if they could develop liquid nuclear fuels, creating organometallic compounds, chemical adducts of U-235 and hydrocarbons or ethers, solubilising the radioactive elements so that they would be movable by pumping through tubes.

The buried reactor story is only one of similar Cold War inheritances. For example, a Mr John Dwyer contacted me some years ago about another research reactor operated by Shell on the Wirral near Birkenhead (where Shell have a big refinery and research setup and where I worked many years ago for a short time). Dwyer has evidence that Shell made a chemical reactor using strontium-90 to beta irradiate solvents to see if there was any mileage in using radiation for chemical production. Mr Dwyer told me that the reactor had to be broken up in the 1980s and a team from Harwell turned up to advise. No one knew what to do. The whole affair was a nightmare of radioactivity. Dwyer alleges that it was taken away by private operators and buried in parts of North Wales. There are leukaemia clusters in parts of North Wales. The authorities say they are chance clusters.

Related impressive CV of Dr Chris Busby published in same book, "Wolves of Water" (also back cover page with reference to "buried nuclear reactors under housing estates...")


1. Background

I was asked by the BBC to investigate the levels of radioactivity in a land water drain at the end of the garden of 337 Wokingham Rd on 17th June 2003. This was further to some earlier evidence that there had been contamination of the garden and house at this address by isotopes from a nuclear reactor or bomb, specifically Uranium-235 and Plutonium 239. There had also been evidence brought forward that suggested that the site to the north of the property, previously owned by Shell Ltd, had been the location of an underground nuclear reactor and experimental nuclear laboratory which had suffered some accident in the 1980s and had been abandoned. Therefore I also made a brief survey of radioactivity in the vicinity of the property to see if there was any gamma or other evidence for the existence of this reactor.


This exercise and its results support the conclusion that there is a source of material from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb in the vicinity of the property. The absolute levels of the material remaining in the drain do not allow us to conclude that the drain itself was the main source of this contamination. However, since the drain has been cleaned and water-jetted in the early 1990s it is unlikely that much material would have remained and so the Caesium to Plutonium ratios are consistent with the conclusion that highly concentrated material containing Plutonium-239 was at one time in the drain and that we are measuring the small amount that has remained after cleaning and the passage of more than 10 years.


New Information relevant to the reputation and credibility of Professor Busby added March 2012

Post-Fukushima 'anti-radiation' pills condemned by scientists: Guardian Newspaper 21 November 2011

Christopher Busby's wild claims hurt green movement and Green party: Guardian Newspaper 22 November 2011




The Guardian: Toxic link: the WHO and the IAEA: A 50-year-old agreement with the IAEA has effectively gagged the WHO from telling the truth about the health risks of radiation: 28 May 2009

Chernobyl area doctors and researchers contradict predicted UN mortality figures as being far too low years after disaster: http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2010/Chernobyl_deaths_contradicted





Letter from Thames Water Authority to Shell UK Oil: Pollution - River Loddon. Earley Storage Depot: 25 March 1976

Notification to Shell of "serious pollution of the River Loddon" from the Shell Earley "Storage Depot" seeking views on "contamination from your premises..."

Reply letter to Thames Water Authority from Shell U.K. Oil: 14 May 1976

Shell reply blames pollution on new drainage which in the light of subsequent unauthorised discharge on adjoining property was apparently defective and illegal.

Decontamination letters from Shell to Mr R Collett, 8 Crompton Close, Earley Reading: Nov/Dec 1993

Letter from Shell announcing plans to "decontaminate" the Shell site at Earley prior to pending sale of the property. Further letter contains an apology from Shell "if our letter came as somewhat of a shock". Offers reassurance over decontamination. It is interesting to note this is the "Richard Collett" interviewed in "The Bunker" programme when he described noticing "buried empty rooms" at the time when contractors were removing contaminated soil from the site. Apparently the "decontamination" was not satisfactory because at least one further "decontamination" was subsequently carried out. The site was also decontaminated after a chemical fire which according to reports at the time, included an explosion. None of the decontaminations apparently prevented the leakage of pollution/radioactivity on to ajoining property.

Letter to Mr Fox from Wokingham District Council confirming contamination of Shell Site: 22 December 1993

Letter says results of an independent survey "showed contamination, within the site boundary, by volatile inorganic hydrocarbons" and that "more heavily contaminated soil is being removed from the site..." Also says: "Samples were taken at the site boundary, but these showed no evidence of contamination, and so I can conclude that there is no risk of contamination of your property or any others adjoining the site." Apparently the decontamination process was inadequate because, as previously indicated, at least two further decontamination processes had taken place at the site but none apparently prevented leakage of radioactive contamination. To be fair to the contractors involved, none were as far as we know, advised of any nuclear/radioactive history of the site.

Selection of correspondence with Shell Legal Division from 1995


Shell General Counsel Richard Wiseman blames Thames Water for a broken sewer resulting in discharge on Mr Fox's garden, before shifting position. Eventually, while denying responsibility for contamination, Shell agrees to inspect and clean the drain. In a letter dated 26 October 1995, Shell admits that it does not "dispute the analysis of the samples taken from the drain by your expert and Thames Water" but continues to deny that "any contamination in your garden is the responsibility of this Company..." In a letter to John Redwood MP, Wiseman claims that Shell is helping Mr Fox on a "good neighbour basis by arranging for the drain to be cleaned and inspected at our expense while the legal situation is clarified." This was an unfortunate comment bearing in mind that poisoning people as a byproduct of a commercial enterprise hardly falls within the definition of being a "good neighbour". Shell has a track record of contaminating the environment and has paid huge fines for so doing. The Wikipedia record shows that Shell is a deadly neighbour, not a good one.

From Wikipedia: Royal Dutch Shell Environmental Issues:



Release of chemical pollutants at Shell Texas Deer Park complex

Emission violations at Shell Martinez refinery in California

Environmental infringements by Shell in Louisiana

Groundwater contamination by Shell in USA

Unauthorised venting and flaring of gas by Shell in USA

Shell Pipeline rupture in Washington

Environmental law infringements in Brazil

Refinery contamination in Texas

Oil Refinery in Durban

US Clean Air Act violations

Emission violations at Shell Wood River Refinery in Illinois

Shell settles Martinez Refinery dumping suit for $3 Million

Shell fined $19.75 million for oil spill from Martinez Refinery

Explosion at Shell Louisiana refinery

Pollution at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Denver, Colorado

Selection of correspondence with Shell Legal Division 1996

Dr G Lethbridge of Shell's Thornton Research Centre (now dealing with such matters at Shell Global Solutions) becomes involved. This suggests a serious concern by Shell at what was going on at Earley.

Report from Clayton Environmental Consultants plus associated correspondence with Shell Legal Division: March/April 1996

Clayton Environmental Consultants were present when during the cleaning and inspection of the drain as arranged by Shell and confirmed in their report that there was an oil discharge from the pipe which appeared fractured/open jointed at two locations. Subsequent letter from Shell legal division notified Mr Fox of Shell's intention to repair the drain.

Selection of correspondence with Shell Legal Division 1997

Mr Fox writes to Shell saying he has received notification that a planning application has been made to build 42 houses on the Shell site. He also complained about the death of trees in his garden from "clear contamination". Wiseman replies on 2 May saying "your horticultural problems cannot be attributed to escape of product from this Company's premises." On 16 May Wiseman sends a letter headed "CONTAMINATION AT 337 WOKINGHAM ROAD READING". The letter contained an offer which was not made on a "without prejudice" basis to carry out work on the drain by inserting a sleeve. Instead the offer was made on the basis that no further claims would be brought against Shell. Mr Wiseman seemed understandably keen to draw Mr Fox into the agreement which, for the cost of a modification to a drain, would have relieved Shell of all future liability. Peanuts compared with a potential claim by Fox arising from contamination by toxic poisons or undeclared radioactive materials.

Ray Fox correspondence with Shell Legal Division in Nov/Dec 1997 and Feb/March 1998 relating to a fire at the Shell Depot in Earley, Reading in 1986

Shell legal division confirms that in 1986 a fire took place at the Shell Terminal in Earley. A Shell letter dated 5 December 1997 revealed that the site was "remediated" (decontaminated) based on "target contamination levels". The following are extracts from the letter Mr Fox sent to Wiseman on 25 February 1998:



1) With regard to the chemical fire ( confirmed by your Mr Files letter of 7/11/1997 ref;-- UKLG/\ 1!S94F) the subject of the follow up article is the production of large quantities of those highly documented mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds DIOXINS and PAHs which were an inevitable consequence of this type of fire.

2) The question of why no action was taken to inform local residents of the possible horrendous medical problems that could result from contact contamination from these compounds that are a proven cause of cancer and genetic abnormalities such as babies being born with limbs or organs missing. These effects are extremely well documented world wide and reference to the literature and reports of the US government's Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Health, US Toxic Substances Registry and the World Health Organisation's long term study of Sevcsco will all confirm this.

3) With reference to your consultants Fairhurst's report post remediation April 1994, PAR contamination was confirmed in the area of the fire and in other parts of the your former Earley site.

5) The question of why, given that the PAH contamination recorded in the Fairhurst report of April 1994, not one single test was taken by CET in September 1996 in area 4b and this is confirmed in their report that was submitted to WOC with Persimmon's planning application for your former Earley. The fact that the PAH contamination was known and recorded at woe raises the question as to how planning consent for housing on tills site could possibly have been granted.

Mr M H Files replied on behalf of Wiseman, side-stepping providing a reply to the vitally important issues raised in Mr Fox's letter. Files informed Mr Fox that Shell had sold the contaminated site to Persimmon Homes and cold-bloodedly stated: "Shell no longer has any interest in the land" (or apparently the dire medical consequences to past and future households in the area arising from the long term contamination).

Wokingham District Council Letter to Shell Legal Division: 5 December 1997

Council seeks information about complete knowledge of previous site uses including all substances stored or used thereon. Shell did not disclose that any nuclear/radioactive material or activity was connected with the site.

Letter from Cllr David Swindells to Gillian Norton, Chief Executive, Wokingham District Council: 5 June 1998

Letter mentions public concern over site contamination issues and expresses hope that the Council will not authorise Persimmon Homes to build on the site until contamination issues resolved.

Letter from MH Files, Shell Legal Department: 3 October 1998

Letter confirms fire at the Shell terminal in 1986. It also refers to the defective drain pipe as being "our connecting pipe". This is directly at odds with the denials and attempted buck-passing by Wiseman in earlier correspondence when Wiseman said that the pipe belonged to Thames Water. Mr Files was being economical with the truth when he indicated in his letter that Shell had been the site owner since 1976, yet failed to disclose Shell had been the co-owner of the site for many years earlier, when the activity which involved radioactive material may have occurred. We note that the letter contains admissions of a leaking drainage pipe running across Mr Fox's garden and that contamination levels were above threshold in some areas. When Mr Files referred to "remediation", was he using this term as a preferred alternative to "decontamination"?

Letter from Cllr David Swindells to Director of Community Services, Wokingham District Council: 20 July 1999

In this letter Cllr Swindells mentions a letter from Woodley Social Services recording that Shell had expressed concerns that the children of Mr & Mrs Fox were at risk, the inference being that they were at risk of being harmed due to the action of their parents. This was of course a very serious allegation.

Letter Deputy Town Clerk, Earley Town Council, to Mr & Mrs Ray Fox: 25 February 2000




As you are aware, at the time the original planning application was submitted by Persimmon Homes, the Town Council expressed its doubts about the suitability of the site for residential development, not only because of the former use of the site, but also from the high-voltage power cables which cross it. We were advised that the land would be cleared of contaminants..."

...and I have been asked to re-affirm that, if the Town Council were asked to consider a similar Planning Application today, they would remain of the opinion that it should be refused.

Letter to Ray Fox from Chief Executive of Slough NHS Primary Trust: 22 October 2002

NHS Primary Health Trust Chief Executive Mike Attwood states: "It is true that your house and garden are contaminated with uranium and plutonium from nuclear reactors." He goes on to claim: "This is a universal phenomenon since the nuclear industry and weeapons tests began to take place." Most of the UK population might find his statement to be rather alarming.

Letter to Ray Fox from Richard Wiseman, Shell UK General Counsel: 16 March 2004

16 March 2004

Dear Mr Fox

Thank you for your email of the 10th March. No, you cannot have copies of the correspondence in question. Since you constantly threaten litigation and indeed on several occasions have engaged firms of solicitors and referred to advice recently taken from American lawyers, the correspondence in question is clearly privileged.

I am afraid you have completely misunderstood the material you have obtained. Shell has never been involved in "atomic" or "nuclear" research at the Thornton site or elsewhere in the U.K. Between 1953 and 1966 it conducted research for the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority. The research was only ever concerned with developing lubricants for nuclear power plants. It involved subjecting lubricants to controlled emissions of low-level Gamma radiation in a small secure purpose built laboratory at Thornton. The work was conducted strictly in accordance with the Radio Active Substances Acts of 1948 and 1960 and other relevant legislation. The site was properly registered and regularly inspected. We have nothing to hide - we have never made a secret of this research programme. Indeed, the work was described in the publicly available brochure "50 Years of Thornton Research Centre" which was produced in 1990.

Yours sincerely
Shell International Limited

Richard Wiseman
U.K. General Counsel

Green Party Chairman's letter to UK Government Minister, Nick Raynsford MP: 9 July 2004




The Green Party has become aware of the following assertions relating to Mr Ray Fox, of 337 Wokingham Road, Reading, Berkshire. Ray Fox lived until recently in Earley, near Reading, Berkshire.

In the mid 1990s he dug up a drain at the bottom of his garden to clear a blockage which was flooding his garden. The land drain crossing the corner of his property was blocked with some tarry black material which Ray cleared away. Shortly after this he became seriously ill. His body became covered in what
appeared to be burns and blisters.

The symptoms appeared to be those of radiation poisoning. Thus began several years of struggle to obtain an explanation for his illness and its origin, a struggle that has slowly revealed elements of what appear to be a most extraordinary cover-up - a secret underground atomic research site operated in Reading in the 1960s by the Shell Oil Company as part of a research effort into the development of atom bombs. Parts of the story have been revealed in newspaper articles and on television, but Dr Chris Busby, of the Green Party has visited the site on two occasions and made radiation measurements. As you will know, on 25th Nov. 2002 Dr Chris Busby and Caroline Lucas MEP had a meeting in Brussels with Stephen Kaiser of the ED Radiation Protection unit to demand that they investigate the situation.

The facts appear to be as follows. Following his contamination and illness, Ray discovered that the drain he had unblocked was an illegal connection to the public land drain to the River Loddon and was apparently draining material from a Shell 'oil depot' at Earley, which had existed on a site at the bottom of his garden until the 1980s. After the closure of the depot, the land remained derelict until acquired by a developer in the late 1990s when it was 'remediated' by removing a metre of topsoil and replacing it with fresh topsoil. A new housing estate was built on the site and people now live there.

According to the results of tests mentioned in the letter...



"...the Plutonium levels in Ray's house were up to 60 times higher than would be expected."

The letter goes on to state: -



"What supports the argument that there has been contamination from a reactor or fissionable nuclear bomb material is the ratio of Uranium-238 to Uranium-235. Although the absolute levels are not high, this ratio is an unmistakable fingerprint for material from a reactor or a bomb core. "

Letters from Dr Caroline Lucas MEP to Stephen Kaiser, Head of the DG Environment Radiation Protection unit (EU Aurthority) and to the Patient Advice & Liaison Service, Reading.

Shell DEFENCE to Action in the High Court Justice Queens Bench Division Case No. HQ06X01271: BETWEEN: Raymond James Fox & Others (Claimant) And Shell U.K. Limited ( Defendant): 31 May 2006



Shell files its defence in relation to High Court proceedings brought against Shell for personal injury and consequential loss by Ray Fox & Others arising from alleged escape of noxious radioactive substances from the Shell Earley Terminal.

Shell quickly brought to the Courts attention that Mr Fox was made bankrupt on 12 February 2001. The bankruptcy arising from a personal guarantee relating to a directorship of a building company has been described in an article as being "highly dubious". Mr Fox says that a bankruptcy order was made against him while he was abroad receiving specialist medical treatment from radiation exposure. He claims that a forged document was used to obtain the order and that his offer to pay the claimed sum of around £7,000 was declined. He also points out that the order made him bankrupt on an indefinate basis. The bankruptcy does indeed appear dubious to say the least.

Shell denied operating a "nuclear facility" at Earley and that any "radioactive material" was transmitted to Fox's home. However, Shell did not deny in the defence document that radioactive material was stored at the terminal.

Perhaps even more significantly, Shell said that it would:



"admit that if, contrary to the above, the Claimants prove that the Defendants used or stored radioactive material at the Earley Terminal and that this radioactive material was transmitted from the Earley Terminal to the Claimant's home then this would represent the breach of relevant duties owed by the Defendants to the Claimants as adjoining occupiers and/or persons living in the vicinity of the Earley Terminal."

Unfortunately Shell succeeded in blocking the litigation. Prosecution of the claim on a timely basis had been made difficult if not impossible by the bankruptcy order, the associated lack of funds and the continuing ill health of Mr Fox. In blocking the action, Shell also succeeded in preventing the UK Atomic Energy Authority from having to supply relevant documents to Mr Fox in accordance with an application he had made to the courts. Very powerful forces were at work, including almost certainly the British Intelligence Services with whom the UKAEA and Shell have had a long association.

Email Correspondence with Shell November 2008




Leaflet distributed to households in the area notifying that:

1. Planning permission had been granted for a residential development on the former Shell "petrochemical storage site"

2. "Some" decontamination had been carried out by Shell.

3. The site was still contaminated but the Wokingham District Council did not consider that there was any health risk.

4. There was no evidence to support claims made by an unidentified local resident (Ray Fax).

5. The property developer PERSIMMON HOMES had agreed to have a further decontamination process carried out to deal with "known past use of the site" i.e. as a petrochemical storage site.




Subsequent Notice to Residents from PERSIMMON HOMES

Notice to residents in Earley, Reading from PERSIMMON HOMES plus letter to Ray Fox: June/July 1998:

For some reason the housing site developers Persimmon Homes appeared to prefer the term "remediation" to "decontamination" when describing the pending treatment of the radioactively contaminated site previously owned by Shell


Persimmon Homes Decontamination Validation Report, Earley Rise, Reading: February 1999:

Part 1

Part 2

By now Ray Fox had kicked up such a commotion that Persimmon Homes actually used the dreaded word: "Decontamination".

The former Shell site has been unsuccessfully "decontaminated" at least three times. It appears that no one involved in the repeated decontamination processes were aware of any nuclear/radioactive past history of the site on which the housing development took place.

Webpage for Persimmon Homes Housing Development on an allegedly Radioactive Site





Environmental Risk Assessment carried out on the "target", 337 Wokingham Road, by RPS Thomson for Wokingham District Council: January 1998

Dr. med. Josef Kees Medical Report on Mr Ray Fox: 3 February 1998

Dr. med. Josef Kees Medical Report on Christopher Fox: 4 February 1999

Dr. med. Josef Kees Analysis Results on Mr Ray Fox: 5 February 1998

Associated photograph of Ray Fox taken in 1998

Test Results by Dr Robert Cass: 3 November 1997

Letter to Ray Fox from Biolab Medical Unit: 21 July 1999

Open Letter from Dr Stephen Hodges, University of Essex: 30 March 2000

Wallace Bacon Consultants Report on Structural Damage337 Wokingham Road: October 2000

Further Medical Report on Mr Ray Fox by Dr. med. Josef Kees supplied to Dr Van Steenis: 3 January 2002

Report of Dr K S Badsha MSc CChem MRSC MAE: Soil analysis and preliminary assessment report carried out for the RoyalSunAlliance insurance company: Study Completion Date: 17th May 2002

Report of Dr Chris Busby PhD on Isotopic ratio Urine sample of Mr Ray Fox formerly of 337 Wokingham Rd Earley, Reading, and its significance: 20 February 2008

Webpage for Ray Fox related Medical/Scientific Expert Reports








Link to separate webpage




Witness Statement of Mr Gerald James 1 June 2007 (24 page pdf document, so please be patience, it will take a while to download)


Comment in House of Commons by Vince Camble MP, former Chief Economist of Shell (Debate on the Al-Yamamah BAE Fraud/Corruption controversy and associated money laundering)

7 Feb 2007: Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD):



"Let me turn to the history of this issue. The al-Yamamah contract originated in the mid-1980s, and the context is often forgotten. It was not achieved primarily as a result of competition and British technological excellence; the context at that time was the very close relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States, which both sides wished to perpetuate. However, the problem was that, as President Reagan provided Saudi Arabia with more and more sophisticated equipment, there were objections from Israel. Perfectly understandably, the Israelis were concerned about one of their potential adversaries acquiring sophisticated technology. The situation was not helped, of course, by the tirade of anti-Semitic abuse that often comes from the Saudi authorities. Israel protested, and friends of Israel in the United States Congress blocked the F-15 deal, which was in turn passed on to Britain and Mrs. Thatcher. The Reagan Administration were very anxious to bless this arrangement. They owed the Saudis various favours. They were supporting the Nicaraguan Contras and helping gallant freedom fighters in Afghanistan—such as Osama bin Laden. Reagan was perfectly happy to support this British arrangement, which proved to be one of the largest arms deals in history. It has been worth about £40 billion to date, and could be worth something of the same magnitude again in the future. It is not merely an arms deal, but one of extraordinary complexity that involves two major subsidiary features. One is an offset agreement, which, essentially, is a joint venture set of arrangements under which British companies put in capital and expertise, and their Saudi partners take their cut. There is also an oil element. There was an oil barter arrangement whereby oil was marketed, initially by Shell and BP, and the proceeds were routed through the MOD to BAE Systems."


This Saudi British Bank document contains a reference to the original "Al Yamamah" agreement involving Saudi Arabia, BAE Systems, the UK Ministry of Defence (the MOD), with Shell and BP fulfilling what has been described as a money laundering role in the "oil-for-arms" deal:



"The Al Yamamah Project was initiated in September 1985. It involves the supply and support of Tornado, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft and specialised naval vessels to Saudi Arabia. The UK Government's prime contractor for the project is BAE Systems pIc. The related Al Yamamah Economic Offset Programme was launched in 1989."

The main parties are once again Saudi Arabia, BAE Systems and the MoD. The main "Key" address for "The British Offset Office" stated in the document is the Ministry of Defence in London. Shell is also involved, this time via a subsidiary:



"The foreign partner is Basell, who is the world's largest PP manufacturer and is itself a 50/50 joint venture between Royal Dutch/Shell Group and BASF. Basell will hold 25% of the equity in the Saudi Arabian venture."

Related MOD documents

House of Commons Select Committee on International Development: September 2000



21. The allegations continued. In December 1996, Sunday Business suggested that one of the reasons behind the Saudi company Aramco's replacement of BP and Shell as oil exporters in Al Yamamah was an attempt by the Saudi government to save money on commission payments to the companies, which were estimated at $30 million/£18 million a year. (Sunday Business, 1.12.96)

Declassified UK Government documents relating to Shell role in Al-Yamamah "oil-for-arms" project (all confidential/secret/restricted documents):

26 September 1985

UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) document "SALE OF AIRCRAFT TO SAUDI ARABIA). Includes written confirmation from Minister of Defence Michael Heseltine to "His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz" of terms for the BAe military planes-for-oil deal:




"Following acceptance by the British Government of payment by means of an oil trading scheme, preliminary discussions have been held with the British Oil Companies, BP and Shell. These two companies are prepared in principle to handle the oil trading scheme subject to the agreement of satisfactory terms and conditions. They will form a Consortium, to be led by BP. "

2 October 1985

UK Department of Trade & Industry Minute headed BRITISH AEROSPACE: SAUDI ARABIAN DEAL




"All that had so far been agreed was that the aircraft ordered by Saudi Arabia might be paid for entirely in oil, up to an amount of $4 billion. The details now had to be worked out. Mr Knapp's simplistic view was that if the oil price went down, the Saudi Arabians would have to pump up more to pay for the aircraft. British Aerospace would have to play a role with BP as an agent having an interest in the deal. BAe had already been involved by the Ministry of Defence in the discussions on the oil deal."

MoD Letter 21 October 1985





"Nor have the Saudis told us yet exactly how the deal is to be financed; the only word on that so far is that the Saudi authorities have told us that it will be paid for entirely in oil. We hope in concert with BP, Shell, BAe and the Department of Energy to thrash this out with the Saudi Petroleum Ministry, Petromin, very shortly. We await a summons to Riyadh."

22 November 1985

From 10 Downing Street (From Charles Powell on behalf of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) to MoD plus MoD Response.




"Our oil negotiators (from Shell and BP) are ready to resume discussions with the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum as soon as the Saudi Government (which effectively means the King and Prince Sultan) have decided on the way ahead. Prince Sultan told Mr Chandler that he hoped to be able to make an initial cash payment in addition to arrangements for a long-term oil lifting arrangement in our favour."

27 January 1986

MoD letter to Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) headed "SAUDI ARABIA - MILITARY AIRCRAFT FOR OIL"



CONTENT OF LETTER FROM C H HENN, UK MoD Assistant Under Secretary of State Defence Export Services Administration.

"On returning from Saudi Arabia this morning I have seen a copy of your letter of 24 January to Adams.

I ought to put it on record that an agreement was signed yesterday in Riyadh by Yamani and by Shell and BP representatives providing for the lifting of 300,000 barrels//day for an initial period of 3 years. It will then continue year by year unless either party terminates. The 300,000 includes lifting East of Suez. The funds generated will be dedicated to the military aircraft project and Shell/BP stated their intention to carry on lifting so long as the aircraft project requires. There are of necessity review and escape clauses but all concerned are well aware of the need for stable funding and Shell/BP would in practice only terminate in extremis.

I should stress that the existence as well as the terms of this agreement is a matter of some political as well as commercial sensitivity.

I should be glad to expand on the above."

11 February 1986

Department of Trade & Industry Minute




"The essence of the agreement is that Shell/BP will lift 300,000 bpd (+ or -10%) over three years, recoverable if payment for Tornado not by then completed (calculations were made on a price of $20pb which seems optimistic)."

"The Saudis have emphasised that they wish these arrangement to remain confidential; in particular there should be no mention of barter. Neither HMG nor BAe would take title to the oil."

ECGD 10 March 1986

Export Credits Guarantee Department letter from P Henley to R E Adams at HM Treasury




"Subsequently Shell and BP entered into 3 year contracts to lift 300,000 barrels per day on a net-back pricing basis and there are provisions for extending the period as necessary."

"However, towards the end, the Saudis made it clear that they expected all payments to be made from oil lift arrangements and for this purpose Shell and BP entered into contracts with the Saudis to lift 300,000 barrels per day on a net-back pricing basis."

18 March 1986

Export Credits Guarantee Department Minute by P Henley headed "£5BN DEFENCE DEAL WITH SAUDI ARABIA"




"Subsequently Shell and BP entered into 3 year contracts to lift 300,000 barrels per day on a net-back pricing basis and there are provisions for extending the period as necessary."

25 March 1986

Department of Trade and Industry letter from Minister Paul Channon to Rt Hon Nigel Lawson MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer (copied to the Prime Minister)




"However, towards the end, the Saudis made it clear that they expected all payments to be made from oil lift arrangements and for this purpose Shell and BP entered into contracts with the Saudis to lift 300,000 barrels per day on a net-back pricing basis."

2 May 1986

Letter from Peter Walker MP, Secretary of State for Energy, to Rt Hon George Younger MP, Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence




You will remember that, at the time the MOU was signed last September, I expressed great concern about the impact of the deal on the oil market.

I am still concerned to avoid adding to disruption and instability in the oil market. Given the importance that Saudi production levels have assumed, I have doubts about the wisdom of agreeing to any increase in liftings under the oil side of the aircraft deal. Nor would I want pressure to be put on Shell and BP to accept such an increase against their better judgement.

30 July 1986

Letter from MoD Head of Defence Export Services, Colin M Chandler, to HRH Prince Sultan bin Adul Aziz Al Saud, under the heading "PROJECT Al YAMAMAH"




"Currently we have approached the British oil companies who have indicated their agreement to increase liftings, subject to terms from 300,000 to approximately barrels a day until the end of March 1987, and as we have agreed today, it is our mutual aim to maintain this level throughout the life of the project. They have also indicated that they will endeavour, given market conditions prevailing, to take larger quantities."

"(b) Implementation of Increased Oil Liftings

As we agreed today it is necessary for Your Royal Highness to notify the Ministry of Petroleum so that the necessary negotiations can be commenced with the British oil companies Shell and BP as soon as possible."

29 August 1986

Letter from P Henley of ECGD to HM Treasury under the heading "SAUDI ARABIA: DEFENCE DEAL (Tornados) (now called the YAMAMAH PROJECT)




"ECGD will also have no liability for any default by Shell/BP under the oil net-back arrangements or for the collapse of such arrangements."

11 September 1986

Department of Trade and Industry letter from Minister Paul Channon to Rt Hon Nigel Lawson MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer (copied to the Prime Minister)




"In the event of a collapse of the oil arrangements between Shell/BP and Aramco ECGD would only assume liability if within a reasonable period thereafter (say 3 months) the Saudi have failed to institute another method of payment."

23 October 1986

Letter from P Henley of ECGD to HM Treasury under the heading "SAUDI ARABIA - YAMAMAH PROJECT")




4. We have already told BIS that we are not prepared to entertain cover against any autonomous default by Shell/BP (or by any subsequent oil-lifters) in honouring the oil-lift agreements or in remitting the proceeds as instructed by the Saudis. In so far as Shell/BP entered into the Oil Agreement at the request of MODUK and BAe, Shell/BP can be said to be acting for the benefit of the latter and, in our view, any cover requirement by BIS in this particular respect should be addressed to them.

25 November 1986

Letter from Department of Energy Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Peter Gregson, to Sir Clive Whitmore, MoD.




3. It is of course not at all clear how the Saudi intend to achieve a price of $18 pb without cutting production. But if they are to make any progress towards a fixed price, they will have to dismantle all their current netback contracts, including those with Shell and BP. The current oil agreement gives Shell and BP some protection against this because it entitles them to a netback deal so long as any other company has one.

4 December 1986

Ministry of Defence letter to Department of Energy.



2. You should be aware that on 10 November Colin Chandler , the Head of Defence Export Services, drew the attention of the Saudi Defence Minister, Prince Sultan, once again to the financing needs of the aircraft project. As a result, Prince Sultan said that he would write to the Saudi Oil Minister recommending a continuation of the level of lifting at 400,000 barrels per day, and an extension of the oil agreement for another two years (ie to February 1991). This has yet to lead to an invitation to Shell and BP to visit Saudi Arabia for negotiations, and there is indeed no sign of this yet or of any Saudi pressure on the two companies. But the ball is in the Saudi court.

9 December 1986

Letter from G T W Jones of HM Treasury to Peter Henley of ECGD under the heading "SAUDI ARABIA: YAMAMAH PROJECT"




"4. You attached to your letter a copy of a Department of Energy letter of 25 November, which we had not previously seen. The Department of Energy is concerned that the Saudis might seek to renegotiate the netback contracts with Shell and BP in the context of the Yamamah project. As you know, the Saudis are reported to be in support of reducing output in order to increase the price of oil. This issue is included on the agenda for this week's OPEC conference."

18 December 1986

Letter from Peter Henley ECGD to T J D Downing at Bank of England under the heading "SAUDI ARABIA; YAMAMAH PROJECT"




"First concerning delivery of oil. The Oil Agreement provides for oil to be delivered to Shell/BP fob at an Arabian Gulf VLCC port or fob YANBU, making use of the oil pipe-line, or by means of a Saudi vessel to a Shell/BP facility outside Saudi Arabia."

"If Shell/BP cannot send its ships into the Gulf because of war or a blockade and if oil cannot be delivered at any other port because of pipeline capacity constraints and if KSA were not able to ship the oil to a Shell/BP facility and then failed to pay by other means, ECGD would be liable.

You also raised the question of the difference in meaning between "delivery" and "offer for delivery". Whilst it is our intention to cover failure by the Saudis to offer oil for delivery and not failure by Shell/BP to take delivery (other than by reason of the force majeure events described above), we have a practical and legal problem in defining "offer for delivery". We are overcoming this difficulty by talking only about "delivery" (as defined above) but specifically excluding events that we are not prepared to cover (eg default by Shell/BP)."

6 January 1986






Press articles covering Shell involvement in Al-Yamamah corruption scandal

Extract from MEED Middle East Economic Digest article published 17 May 2002 under the headline: Al-Yamamah weathers the changes. (BAE). (Al-Yamamah project remains at the heart of the UK trade drive in Saudi Arabia)



The largest contract ever awarded to a British company, the Al-Yamamah project remains at the heart of the UK trade drive in Saudi Arabia, generating a substantial portion of Britain's export earnings from the largest economy in the Arab world. Although past its peak, Al-Yamamah still generates at least [pounds sterling] 100 million of sales a year. Contract payments are made through an oil barter arrangement involving BP and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group.


Extract from The Daily Telegraph published 19 August 2006 under the headline: “BAE lands arms deal for a new generation”



The oil-for-arms basis of the first deals only served to add to the mysterious workings of Al-Yamamah. BAE was "paid" in oil produced by Saudi outside its Opec quota and sold in the market by BP and Shell. The switch from oil to cash as the basis for the third deal has been influenced by a Saudi anti-corruption drive and a recognition that the slush funds associated with other Saudi arms contracts have helped finance terrorism. There is also a recognition that Al-Yamamah - which means The Dove - is hardly appropriate for defence contracts. There is nothing "dovish" about destructive weapons.


Extract from The Times article published on 21 February 2007 under the headline: “Al-Yamamah an echo of 1980s sleaze”



“The first two al-Yamamah deals were complicated oil-for-arms arrangements that cost Saudi Arabia a certain number of barrels of oil a day. This oil was transferred to BP and Shell, which in turn paid the value of the oil into an escrow account from which BAE received its money.”


Extract from The Guardian article published on 7 June 2007 under the headline: The al-Yamamah deal “Al-Yamamah is Britain's biggest ever arms deal.



The agreement - its name means "the dove" in Arabic - has kept BAE afloat for the last 20 years, bringing around £40bn of revenue.” “Al-Yamamah has been controversial for many reasons. Within weeks of the deal being signed in 1985, allegations of corruption surfaced. Those allegations have never gone away; in December 2006 the government terminated the Serious Fraud Office investigation into claims that BAE had paid massive bribes to Saudi royals.”


Extract from Financial Times article published 8 June 2007 under the headline: “Barter fund used to pay commissions to middlemen”



Al-Yamamah is covered by government-to-government contracts between Saudi Arabia and Britain, which the British government and BAE insist are confidential. At its heart was a barter arrangement under which the Saudis delivered oil to BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which sold it and deposited the proceeds in an escrow account at the Bank of England. Payments from this account required signatures from officials of both Saudi and British governments. From this account, BAE was paid in stages as it completed project milestones. It used some proceeds to pay commissions to middlemen who had helped facilitate the transaction.


Extract from Financial Times article published 2 July 2007 under the headline: Al-Yamamah deal: the Saudi foreign policy connection



The arrangement, at least initially, involved a special account controlled by the Saudis, at the Bank of England. This would receive funds from the sale of Saudi oil lifted and sold by BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which took a commission. Press reports in 1996 suggested this exact arrangement changed - but over nearly two decades, tens of billions of dollars were directed through it.


Extracts from The Times article published 11 April 2008 headlined: Margaret Thatcher ‘ordered bugging of prince’



Al-Yamamah was initially an oil-for-arms trade. BAE supplied Tornados to the Saudis and they transferred oil to Shell and BP. These companies would pay for the oil by moving money into an account held by the Bank of England. The Ministry of Defence then paid BAE from there.





Declassified documents from UK National Archive revealing secret dealings of Royal Dutch Shell with the UK Atomic Energy Authority


Letter from Shell Chairman Sir Francis Hopwood to Sir Edwin Plowden, Chairman of UKAEA: 17 January 1956: Announces Shell's ambition to broaden the scope of its "research programme in the nuclear field": (see Page 1 & Page 2 below:

Page 1

Page 2

UK Atomic Energy Executive internal correspondence: 17 February 1956: Involves Chairman of UKAEE and the Chairman of Shell Transport, Sir Francis Hopwood, concerning visit to Harwell by two members of the Shell Group

Details of discussions and agreements between The Shell Petroleum Co. Ltd and the UKAEA recorded on typewritten note dated 17 February 1956: Subjects included "Isotope Techniques", "Radiation Laboratory Design", "Radiation Chemistry", "Hydrocarbon Moderator and Coolant" and "Ship Propulsion Reactors": The Atomic Energy Research Establishment was represented in the meeting by Sir John Cockcroft, Director of the AERE. (see Page 1 & Page 2 below)

Page 1

Page 2

UKAEA internal letter proving further confirmation that the Chairman of the UKAEA and the then Chairman of Shell, Sir Francis Hopwood, were personally involved in the negotiations between the UKAEA and Shell: Concern expressed at the prospect of a Dutch Shell employee attending the next "International Reactor School Course": 23 February 1956

UKAEA internal letter regarding "proposed Shell student at the Reactor School will be a Dutchman...": 8 March 1956

Approach letter from Shell Petroleum Company Limited to the UKAEA concerning "our wish to acquire detailed technical information for the purpose of building a commercial plant for the production of heavy water...": 21 November 1957

NOTE ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN BATAAFSCHE PETROLEUM MAATSCHAPPIJ AND SHELL PETROLEUM CO. LTD: Reveals there are agreements between the Dutch and UK parent companies of Shell "not embodied in formal documents": 18 February 1958 (see Part 1 & Part 2 below)

Part 1

Part 2

Letter from Shell International Chemical Company Limited to U.K. Atomic Energy Authority covering exchange of information on "heavy water manufacture": 15 April 1958

Shell Thorton Research Centre Report: August 1958: Deals with development of radiation resistant greases for reactor equipment in nuclear power stations (see Page 1 & Page 2 below)

Page 1

Page 2

Approach letter from Shell International Chemical Company Limited to U.K. Atomic Energy Authority covering exchange of information on "heavy water": 12 May 1959 (see Page 1 & Page 2 below)

Page 1

Page 2

UKAEA internal letter headed "Shell - draft agreement about graphite mentions "making nuclear graphite": 15 May 1959

UKAEA internal letter discusses "heavy water access agreement" already concluded: 22 May 1959

UKAEA internal letter expressing concern about information arising from a proposed Graphite Access Agreement being passed by Shell International Chemical Co Ltd to their associates, in particular Dutch associate company: 29 May 1959

UKAEA internal letter expressing concern about information arising from a proposed Graphite Access Agreement being passed by Shell International Chemical Co Ltd to their "associates, who may be numerous and international": 1 June 1959

Letter from UKAEA to Shell International: Proposed Access Agreement regarding Manufacture of Graphite: 6 August 1959

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Declassifed docs webpage


Extracts from "A CENTURY OF OIL" published in 1997:

Extract from page 247 in reference to the Shell Thornton Research facility near Liverpool:



Thornton's most unusual venture at this time was into radioactivity. This took two forms: the use of radioactive isotopes to monitor wear on piston rings in car engines, and the provision of lubricants for atomic reactors. The latter came about almost by chance, when samples of oil were subjected to radiation from Cobalt-60 to see the effect on the hydrocarbons. What was discovered was that one sample proved impervious to radiation, remaining liquid throughout the experiment. As it happened, a nuclear reactor was being built at Calder Hall in Cumbria, barely 90 miles from Thornton. Lubricating the reactor's graphite moderators was a problem no one had yet satisfactorily answered, but Thornton's fortuitous find was the basis of the solution.

Extracts from pages 311 and 312


The venture into nuclear energy was even less successful - indeed, considerably less so. In the 1950s, when nuclear power began to generate electricity for civilian use, Shell was delighted (as we saw in chapter 13) to gain the contract to supply all the lubricants used in Calder Hall, Britain's first commercial nuclear power station, and proceeded additionally to produce coke of extremely high purity for use in reactors. At the time there was a good deal of concern among shareholders that nuclear power could become a competitor to oil. Lord Godber (Shell Transport's then chairman) dismissed these fears as exaggerated, but a watchful eye was kept on the nuclear industry's development. On 2 April 1958, Shell Transport's Minute Book recorded that 'A paper on Atomic Power was placed before the Board and was the subject of a general discussion.' Less than a year later, on 16 March 1959, John Berkin one of Shell Transport's directors - reviewed for the benefit of his colleagues on the board a 'Memo on Atomic Power ...with particular reference to its cost compared with that of power from conventional fuels.' The wisdom then was the same: there was no foreseeable likelihood of nuclear power even coming close to overtaking oil as a cheap and convenient source of energy. But by the early 1970s that view had changed. A toe was put in the nuclear water with the purchase of a 10% interest in a Dutch company called Ultra-Centrifuge Nederland, part of a British-Dutch-German arrangement for developing the centrifuge method of uranium enrichment; and in 1973 Shell announced its 'first big step into nuclear energy'. In a 50:50 partnership with Gulf Oil, two businesses - General Atomic Company in the United States, and General Atomic International elsewhere - were established to develop, manufacture and market the second-generation High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors (HTGRs) and their fuels.

The initial cost to Shell was $200 million, with all subsequent costs to be shared equally with Gulf. For its money Shell acquired interests in a small 40-megawatt experimental plant in Peach-Bottom, Pennsylvania; a commercial-scale 330-megawatt plant in Colorado; six other larger HTGRs which were on order; and two more on which options had been taken. Nor was that all. HTGR technology was set to be introduced into France and West Germany, and possibly into the UK and Japan; and (as Shell Transport's annual report for 1973 recorded) General Atomic was already working on several other developments, including inter alia an HTGR closed-cycle gas-turbine power plant, a gas-cooled fast breeder reactor, the use of HTGR heat in industry, nuclear fusion research and 'the construction of the largest industrial light-water reactor fuel reprocessing plant in the United States.'

In the annual report there was, with all this, a blissful lack of technical explanation, even in the simplest terms. Probably few shareholders had any clear idea of the differences between types of reactors, or between nuclear fusion and nuclear fission as sources of power; but an annual report is hardly the place to attempt such explanations, and anyway - 0 brave new world! - they may not have wished for elucidation. Especially when set against the worrying and unfamiliar background of high-cost oil, it was enough to feel that their company was, as always, in the vanguard of modern energy supply.

At any time in our lives, we all (or most of us) do the best we can with the knowledge and tools currently available, and to many specialists and non-specialists alike, Shell's entry into the nuclear field seemed a sensible idea. Proponents of nuclear power saw it as the clean, simple, eternally renewable fuel ofthe future, and nuclear fusion (the process at work in the sun) may yet prove to be just that. But the existing method of nuclear power generation (nuclear fission, the principle of the atomic bomb) was already a publicly contentious issue, soon exemplified - long before the much greater disaster at the Russian plant of Chernobyl in 1986 - by the episode at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when, on 28 March 1979, the cooling system of the plant's No.2 reactor failed and led to a leak and partial melt-down of the uranium core, with radiation detectable over twenty miles away.

Three Mile Island was a great leap backwards for the nascent nuclear industry, hardening feelings that having a nuclear reactor on one's doorstep might not be an unmitigated good. It was followed, moreover, by a ,series of five smaller but similar accidents in the US, which led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission temporarily to cease licensing the construction of new reactors. Although General
Atomic was not involved in any of these, Shell read them as a clear warning and decided there was not enough to be gained from remaining in an industry which was so expensive, so politically vulnerable, and so much the target of public protest. Those factors were quite sufficiently present in the oil industry anyway; one would have to be a glutton for punishment to seek them elsewhere as well. So, resolving to remove itself from active participation in the nuclear industry, Shell sold its interests in both General Atomic companies to Gulf Oil in 1980. Lasting a mere seven years, nuclear energy had been a short and costly byway - one which Shell would not follow again for a very long time, if ever.

A colour photograph on page 312 had the caption: In appearance oddly reminiscent of Shell's pecten logo, the Doublet III experimental nuclear fusion device was developed by General Atomic.



ContractJournal.com article 29 July 1998




On 19 June 1998 a meeting involving Wokingham District Council, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, Berkshire Health Authority, Thames Water and the Medical Toxology Unit from Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Hospital Trust concluded that there was no evidence to support the claim that contamination had caused ill health for one particular individual, Mr Fox.

The Sunday Times: Suburb 'poisoned' by plutonium: 8 July 2001




SOME of the highest levels of plutonium and uranium contamination recorded in Britain have been found in a home in a suburb in southeast England. Soil and dust collected from the Reading suburb of Earley gave readings of at least 100 times the normal background level of radiation.

Shell UK said last week "no nuclear material was ever stored or processed" at Earley.

Dr Michael Clark, of the NRPB, said: "These are levels sometimes found near nuclear installations, so it is very surprising to find them in a house in Reading." He said the NRPB would investigate.

Radioactive Times: Vol.5 No1. "A Reactor at the Bottom of the Garden":




In the course of investigating this strange story, we have now found that there was indeed an experimental nuclear reactor beneath the ground at the Earley depot. It was visited by Dr David Greenwood who worked at University College London and who recently came to Wales to talk with Chris Busby and others interested in the case. Dr Greenwood has sent an affidavit to the European Commission describing the underground laboratory. The reactor was a graphite moderated reactor of about 30 feet diameter buried several metres deep. It was used for nuclear research in connection with the Manhattan Project and later nuclear developments. Greenwood named several eminent scientists who knew of the existence of the reactor, including Prof David Bohm, the Nobel laureate. He explained that the radioactive contamination which was being produced by the research there was affecting the special oils he went there to obtain for his high vacuum mass spectrometry research.





The owner of the 4 bedroom property, Ray Fox, is aware that his debilitating and life threatening illnesses are due to the fact that the house is radioactive. Earlier investigations have already found extremely high levels of uranium and plutonium. Because of the chemicals and radioactive materials that have leached onto Ray Fox's land and into the house over a period of time via the adjoining rainwater drainage systems, his health has deteriorated and he is now registered disabled. The property backs onto a small housing estate built in 1997 on an old Shell petrochemical depot that was operational from the 1930s for several decades 000000

The Independent: Radioactive house is put up for sale: 14 January 2003



A property described as "the most radioactive house in Britain" is up for sale, despite unnaturally high levels of plutonium in its garden.

Green Party Website: Government told to come clean on secret nuclear facility: 21 March 2003




At its twice-yearly conference, held in Llandrindod Wells from 13 - 16 March, the party unanimously passed a resolution insisting on a complete clean up of the nuclear facility at the former Shell site in Earley, south east of Reading, and immediate action to ensure that victims receive medical attention.

Corporate Watch Newsletter 14 : SHELL SHOCKER: July/August 2003




Shell was unable to say how many reactors it once operated, where any of them were located, or when and how they were disposed of. “It was a long time ago” said a Shell spokeswoman.

Raymond Fox, the owner of the house, became dangerously ill in the mid 1990’s, investigating suspected pollution in his garden. He found a drain leading off the oil depot and into his garden where it intersected with a rain water drain. When he entered the drain he came into contact with oily sludge that caused him to become critically ill. He suffered agonising pains, convulsions and blackouts, his feet would bleed, and his hair fell out in clumps. Now, after years of investigation, his house is at the centre of what must be one of the worst nuclear scandals in British history.

Stephen Kaiser of the European Commission is now investigating the case. He has met with British government representatives who are not denying the contamination of Fox’s land, instead they claim that the radioactivity in Ray’s garden is simply the result of fallout from weapons testing, concentrated by heavy rainfall.

Corporate Watch has learned that a barrister, the late Derek Willmott, had also been investigating the Earley case, on behalf of clients who claimed to have been made ill as a result of pollution originating in the old Shell site. Willmott’s report alleges that the old Shell depot, on which Amber Close is now built, concealed a subterranean facility which housed a nuclear test reactor. His report is based in part on testimony from Dr David Geenwood, a scientist from the medical physics department of University College Hospital, London, who used to visit the site regularly during the 1960s and 70s, to purchase ‘special oils’ for use in mass spectrometers. It was during this time that Greenwood and two other scientists were invited to conduct an inspection of the complex. Greenwood has testified that a graphite test reactor was installed in a large lead-lined chamber along with a neutron generator and large quantities of plutonium, uranium, cobalt 60, and other radioactive substances.

Shell categorically denies that there was a reactor or any other nuclear materials at the Earley site. “Shell is an oil company,” said spokesman Justin Everard. This is disingenuous. It is not common knowledge, but Shell did once have nuclear power interests: General Atomic (in the USA) and General Atomic International (elsewhere): joint ventures with Gulf Oil that operated between 1973 and 1982.

In April 98, Josef Kees, the German doctor who treated Ray Fox, wrote to Dr Abid outlining his analysis of Fox’s condition and urging him to ensure that Fox received treatment. Dr Kees diagnosed “definite toxic allergic reaction resulting from a mixture of toxic substances... a severe toxic poisoning... [including, inter alia] lindane, uranium, DDT and DDE,” and commented, “this demands actions to prove the contamination and then decontaminate the land around his house and the surrounding area.” He made recommendations for treatment and further testing. Despite Fox’s requests to the medical authorities, none of these tests or treatments have yet been conducted.


In addition to being stonewalled by the local council, and medical authorities, Raymond Fox has also fallen victim to a highly dubious bankruptcy proceeding. His company, Fox Building, went into receivership in January 1997, when his illness had rendered him unable to work. Then in 2001 Ray was made personally bankrupt over an alleged personal guarantee for one of Fox Building’s debts. Ray maintains that the guarantee produced at his bankruptcy hearing was a forgery. He even offered to pay the debt in 1999 in order to be rid of the unwanted hassle. His offer was turned down, essentially forcing him into bankruptcy.

Daily Telegraph: Exclusion zone: 29 November 2003:


Raymond Fox claims that radioactivity at his former home has blighted his health - so he refuses to return. His neighbours and the local council insist that the area is perfectly safe. David Rowan investigates a suburban mystery...


At first, he thought the radioactivity might be connected with the nearby atomic weapons plant at Aldermaston; or perhaps the result of a hushed-up air crash involving a damaged nuclear weapon. But since he discovered toxic black sludge in drains leading from the former Shell depot next door, Mr Fox has drawn a conclusion which, if true, has far more worrying implications for his neighbours. Somewhere beneath the bottom of his garden, he is convinced, there was once - perhaps still is - a secret nuclear bunker.

Daily Telegraph: Mysterious radiation in Reading