UK:Military on fuel crisis alert : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 22:06 GMT 23:06 UK Military on fuel crisis alert

Police have been monitoring the delivery of fuel to garages

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that only a fraction of the fuel Britain needs is leaving refineries despite his appeals to the protesters to end blockades. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it is placing up to 80 Army tankers from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF on standby, all of which are supplied by a secure fuel system.

Empty garages Shell: Almost all of 1,100 Texaco: 1,350 out of 1,500 Esso: 850 out of 1,600 BP: 1,000 out of 1,500

Mr Blair told the protesters that their actions were putting "lives at risk" by depriving essential services.

He was speaking after the government ordered the NHS to go on red alert amid fears that the disruption could worsen.

Mr Blair said it was not up to pickets outside refineries to decide which were the essential services that needed fuel.

"Lives are at risk if these people cannot get to work," he said.

"We do and we will listen [to protests]. We will not however be intimidated.

"That would not be the right course for this country and no-one would expect us to act in this way."

Mr Blair said people would be put out of work across the country if their fuel supplies could not get through.

"It is totally wrong of those protesters to say that these people are not essential," he added.

NHS emergency procedures

Thousands of petrol stations remain dry and the shortage is also beginning to affect buses, trains and supermarket supplies.

The idea that a picket at a refinery gate can determine whether hospitals or ambulance service or public transport qualify as essential services is an affront Tony Blair

Some routine hospital operations have been cancelled and some schools have closed.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn instructed health authorities to implement emergency procedures, last used more than a decade ago.

And Conservative leader William Hague demanded the immediate recall of Parliament to allow MPs to debate the crisis.

"This has arisen because Tony Blair never ever listens to people and I think he should be brought to the one place where ministers have to listen and account for their actions," he told the BBC.

Mr Blair said he had not ruled out recalling Parliament.

Police disband protesters

Mr Blair said latest figures showed there had been around 500 tanker movements on Wednesday. One oil company reported that a third of its deliveries had got through to suppliers.

Blair: "Real damage being done to people's lives" There are signs that the blockade could end - but the lack of available fuel means that a return to normal could take far longer than expected.

Tankers are continuing to cross blockades at refineries and are concentrating on reaching the emergency services via 2,500 designated petrol stations.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Shell's chief executive Malcolm Brinder said oil companies would comply with the government's emergency arrangements to ensure fuel gets to essential services.

Protest disbanded

More than 100 police officers in Plymouth moved into the Cattedown fuel depot on Wednesday afternoon to disband protesters.

Eight tankers with fuel for the Devon and Cornwall's emergency services left the depot under escort along roads sealed off by the police.

Around the rest of the UK, the RAC reported traffic chaos caused by lorries and farm vehicles blocking motorway lanes on parts of the M5 and M1.

And the Royal Mail warned it only had supplies for one more day of deliveries in some areas.

Emergency services evacuated up to 20 homes in Derby after almost 230 litres of petrol, stockpiled because of the fuel crisis, began to leak. Firefighters went to the home of a city taxi driver after a strong smell of petrol was reported. They found the fuel was illegally stored in beer barrels and a wheelie bin.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 13, 2000


-- Martin Thompson (, September 13, 2000.

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