Windscale, now called Sellafield, is a nuclear power station on the west coast of Britain. It has been rumored to have been the cause of many leukemia and cancer "incidents" in the north eastern part of Ireland, due to its proximity to the Irish sea. The following is an account of a little talked-about event back in the fifties.

"A fire in No. 1 Pile (Reactor) at Windscale in October 1957 resulted in the release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. On the 7-point International Nuclear Event Scale (see The International Nuclear Event Scale), it was classified as a level 5 event, Accident With Off-Site Consequences, the same as Three Mile Island (see Three Mile Island Accident). The Windscale fire has therefore achieved notoriety as one of the three nuclear disasters (Chernobyl, was the third) which opponents of nuclear power quote as evidence that nuclear power is too risky. But the circumstances surrounding the Windscale accident were very different to those pertaining today and are not relevant to modern nuclear power generation."

To me it would seem that any kind of nuclear accident is a serious disruption to the environment, yet BNFL seem to think the "circumstances" surrounding this accident are "irrelevant" to modern nuclear power.

Tell that to the parents of all the handicapped children in Louth and Down.

Plans to build a new nuclear power station, Thorp, on the English coast resulted in public outcry in the Louth and Down areas, resulting in the formation of STAD, the Stop Thorp Alliance of Dundalk.


When I went to Durham University on an open day, they showed us a little experiment they were doing on soils in forested areas around Sellafield.

It was suggested at the time that the radioactive material would be washed out (leached) of the soil, and so there would be practically no radioactive material remaining after ten years.

They were wrong.

By measuring the amount of radioactivity of samples over time, the amount is reducing only fractionally faster the half-life of the material... it's decaying where it rests, not being washed out.

That's not to say that soil is dangerous, just that there's too much we don't know about radioactivity...

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