Dear Mr Coe
Dear Mr. Coe,
We are aware of the allegations that Mr John Dyer has
made about Shell and its research activities at Thornton in Cheshire. Mr Dyer
has engaged Shell on this matter since 1994 when he first made erroneous claims
that Shell had covertly conducted "atomic" research at the Thornton
site in the 1950s and 60s. He alleged that following the research programme,
contaminated buildings and equipment were demolished in an unsatisfactory
1994 Mr Dyer took his claims to ITV's "The Big Story". The
producers spent many weeks investigating the claims with a view to making a
programme about the issue. Shell investigated all the allegations put to it by
programme's producers and supplied comprehensive answers - and the
producers decided not to proceed with a programme.
Since 1994 Mr Dyer has continued to make allegations about Shell's research
activities at Thornton. We have sought always to treat Mr Dyer respectfully and
to take his claims seriously. A great deal of time has been devoted to
investigating his claims. Indeed, senior Shell managers have met Mr Dyer and we
have engaged with him in a lengthy and detailed correspondence. Mr Dyer has now
threatened to begin legal proceedings against Shell and has launched a website.
We have repeatedly asked Mr Dyer to provide Shell, or any independent third
party with specific evidence to enable further investigations to take place.
Shell has given its assurance that it would naturally co-operate with any such
For the record we should state that Shell has never been involved in
"atomic" research at the Thornton site. Between 1953 and 1966 it
did conduct research for the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The research was only
ever concerned with developing hydrocarbon fluids such as lubricants for nuclear
power plants. It involved subjecting lubricants to controlled emissions of
low level Gamma radiation in a small, secure, purpose-built
laboratory.. There has never been a nuclear reactor at Thornton. The
work was conducted strictly in accordance with the Radioactive Substances Acts
of 1948 and 1960 and other relevant legislation. The site was properly
registered and regularly inspected and any disposals of any radioactive
materials were conducted in accordance with appropriate regulations. Shell
has nothing to hide - it has 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.
As a responsible organisation committed to best practice and continuous
improvement in all matters of health, safety and the environmental performance
Shell will, of course, re-investigate the claims made by Mr Dyer
if he is able to bring forward evidence to justify his allegations.
Assistant - Sustainable Development
Shell International Ltd,
London SE1 7NA