ARMED police carried out an operation in Barrow as a shipment of nuclear waste was safely moved from Sellafield to the docks to be sent abroad.

Members of the public spotted a heavy police presence in the area of Roanhead close to the Dunes Hotel yesterday afternoon.

Armed police lined the route travelled by train from Sellafield to Barrow on the nuclear site's dedicated line to Barrow Docks.

The shipment was carried out with support from police and officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

The route between Sellafield and Barrow is closely monitored by police for security reasons.

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said: "Cumbria Constabulary have worked with a number of partner agencies as part of a transport operation.

“The operation was completed safely with no impact on members of the public.”

Transportation of nuclear waste to and from Sellafield is overseen by International Nuclear Solutions which is part of the government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

As well as reprocessing nuclear material from the UK's power stations Sellafield also carries out the process for nuclear sites in France and Japan.

The route between Sellafield and Barrow is taken by train, provided by the NDA's Direct Rail Services subsidiary.

When it arrives in Barrow the shipments are loaded onto large cargo ships owned by Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited and based at the INS Marine Terminal at Ramsden Dock.

PNTL has completed more than 180 shipments of used nuclear fuel, vitrified high-level waste, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel and plutonium since it was established in 1975.

The firm operates three ships from the Port of Barrow; Pacific Heron, Pacific Egret and Pacific Grebe.

Serco operate the contract as shipping agents after taking over from Barrow firm James Fisher.

The ships are fitted with naval cannon and their cargo is also protected by a double hull and impact resistant structures throughout along with specialist nuclear mariners.