History of British nuclear plant closed for falsifying safety data is catalogue of leaks, fires and explosions

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This is a followup on the story of the British uke Plant that has been closed down after it was discover that they have been falsifying safety reports and other data..

History of plant is catalogue of leaks, fires and explosions

Source: The Irish Times Publication date: Feb 19, 2000

Changing the name of the Windscale nuclear reprocessing plant to Sellafield in May 1981 did nothing to end its being continually dogged by controversy.

The first plutonium piles began to operate at Windscale in October 1950 and in March 1952 the first piece of plutonium was made in Britain.

In 1956 radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea were deliberately raised for two years, as part of experimental work.

October 1957 was the occasion of the Windscale fire, when a core temperature rise caused a fuel cartridge to split. At the height of the fire three tonnes of uranium were alight and it took three days to get it under control. Two days later the government ordered that two million litres of contaminated milk be poured away.

There were changes to operations throughout the 1960s, with the opening of the Windscale Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor in February 1963, which first supplied electricity to the national grid.

In September 1973 - two years after the formation of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd - a steam explosion in the head-end plant sent a burst of radioactive gas into the air. About 35 workers were contaminated. On an October morning in 1975 the Daily Mirror declared on its front page: "Windscale - The World's Nuclear Dustbin".

The Friends of the Earth held a demonstration outside the gates of Windscale. In September of that year the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution published its report on radioactive waste.

It said: "It would be morally wrong to commit future generations to the consequences of fission power on a massive scale unless it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that at least one method exists for the safe isolation of those wastes for the indefinite future."

On June 14th, 1977 the 100-day Windscale Inquiry started. During its course 194 significant events at Windscale were revealed up to 1977, compared with the 27 incidents which had previously been made public. A Yorkshire Television documentary broadcast in October 1983 - Windscale, the Nuclear Laundry - alleged that the incidence of leukaemia among children in the nearby village of Seascale was 10 times the national average and that plutonium dust had been found in houses in Cumbria.

In November of that year the public was warned against using a 200m stretch of beach near the plant. In December the closed area was extended to 40 km after the Department of the Environment found radioactive levels in the area were between 100 and 1,000 times higher than previously thought. In June 1985 BNFL was fined (pounds) 10,000 plus costs for failing to keep discharges as low as possible.

In February 1986, Sellafield went on Amber Alert when a mist of plutonium nitrate leaked into the air. Seventy one workers had to be evacuated from the plant and 11 of them were found to be contaminated. In December the Dail called for the closure of Sellafield.

In February 1990 the Gardner Report found that radiation received by fathers working at Sellafield was associated with the development of leukaemia in their children.

In April 1996 BNFL was found guilty of breaching safety regulations and fined (pounds) 25,000 plus costs. In September 1996 it was fined (pounds) 32,500 for a chemical leak which killed 15,000 fish in the River Calder.

1997 saw the contamination of 10 workers and of external concreted areas. In October 1999 three workers were sacked from the plant, accused of falsifying safety checks on nuclear fuel in the MOX plant.

Publication date: Feb 19, 2000 ) 2000, NewsReal, Inc.



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 20, 2000


And in another country today....


(for educational purposes only)

"Reports: Five Sick From Radiation

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Five people have been hospitalized for exposure to radiation that leaked from scrap metal sold to a recycling yard on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thai newspapers reported Sunday.

Two workers who handled the metal cylinder were in a coma, and the man who sold it suffered radiation burns to his hands, the Bangkok Post said.

The owner of the scrap yard in Samut Prakan province and another worker were also hospitalized, the newspaper said.

The Thai Health Ministry reported Saturday that three scrap yard workers had fallen critically ill with blisters, burns and hair loss. They were vulnerable to infections because of a drop in their white blood cell count, the ministry said.

Ten more neighbors and relatives of the victims who took blood tests were discharged from the hospital because they showed only very slight exposure to radiation, the Post reported.

Staff from Thailand's small atomic energy research center, who had Geiger counters but no protective clothing, sifted through piles of scrap at the yard Saturday searching for the source of the leak, the Bangkok Post said.

After 11 hours they found a metal cylinder containing cobalt 60, a radioactive isotope used in the production of gamma rays, mainly used in sterilization by the food industry, or in hospitals for cancer treatment, The Nation reported.

The Nation said the case was the first ever radioactive leak in Thailand.

AP-NY-02-20-00 0759EST"

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), February 20, 2000.

Yes, but when was it closed? In the month and a half since rollover, or in the almost 20 years of safety violations before rollover?

-- fusillier (yesbut@ynot.com), February 20, 2000.

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