AWE hosts new forensics laboratory
AWE has cemented its crucial role in nuclear deterrence by hosting a new, state-of-the art nuclear forensics laboratory, which was officially opened this week by MP James Brokenshire.
Above: Gary Butler (AWE), AWE’s Head of Science and Technology, Graeme Nicholson, with Minister James Brokenshire, Giles Graham (AWE) and AWE’s MD Andrew Jupp, in the new forensic lab.
Mr Brokenshire, who is a minister in the Home Office for crime and security, visited the company’s Aldermaston site on Tuesday (May 22).
The Conventional Forensics Analysis Capability (CFAC) lab has the capability to receive some radiological, nuclear and explosively contaminated evidence, and then analyse the evidence for traditional forensics purposes.
Above: Minister James Brockenshire examines one of the gloveboxes in the new forensic lab, with AWE’s Giles Graham (background).
Mr Brokenshire (above) said: “I am delighted and proud to open the new CFAC laboratory at AWE Aldermaston. The successful delivery of this laboratory is as a result of the strong collaboration between the Home Office, our MOD colleagues and the AWE project team.
This unique, world-class facility plays a major role in how we respond to nuclear and national security threats and sets international standards in incident response. It will make a significant difference to our understanding of forensics, helping us to bring to justice those people involved in terrorism, ensuring we keep our country safe.”
The laboratory means we will have a greater technical response capability in helping the Home Office investigate and prosecute terrorist use of an improvised radiological or nuclear device.
We will also have the forensic ability to trace the source of nuclear and radiological materials, by working through their unique chemical and physical 'fingerprints'.
Refurbishing an existing building at AWE and providing associated equipment has been sponsored by the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence.
At times, AWE will be pooling its resources and expertise to support forensic specialists from the police, forensic science service providers and other organisations.
Graeme Nicholson, AWE’s Director of Science and Technology, said: “We are particularly proud that the work of the lab has been announced as this is an area of this joint partnership between two government departments and AWE.
“The new facility will enable the UK to carry out conventional forensics techniques – such as fingerprinting and DNA recovery - on radiologically-contaminated evidence.”