A letter published in this weeks Big Issue in the North
QUESTION OF TRUST
Cumbria Wildlife Trust has just held a sand sculpture competition at St Bees. This beach, near Sellafield, is where 41 hot radioactive particles were recovered last year, including plutonium.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s response to this increase has been to ask for reduced monitoring and reduced retrieval of radioactive particles. In other words, if you don’t look, you don’t find.
Groups like Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been told about the radioactive particle finds by their members but choose to put their full trust in the regulators. The lack of precautionary advice to Cumbrians from the regulators appears to pander to the government agenda for new build. It has been known for many years that young children and unborn children are most vulnerable to increased harm if radioactive particles are ingested.
The Health Protection Agency’s advice is that toddlers and babies on the beach are less at risk because they move less and that the risks are low compared to overall risks beaches users take.
This is misleading. A pregnant mother can see and avoid the danger of her child drowning in a rock pool – she can’t see radioactive particles being ingested/inhaled by herself or her child.
Sellafield reprocessing should stop as a matter of urgency – and the radioactive particle recovery from Cumbrian beaches should be stepped up, not stepped down. Groups that the public trust such as Cumbria Wildlife Trust are perpetuating the myth that our beaches and our children are safe from Sellafield.
Published on 25 May 2013
This documentary was shown on German and French TV but not in England. For obvious reasons the English don’t want anyone to see it. This is the English version which we hope you will mirror and call attention to. It discusses the effects of sea dumping of radioactive waste on the health of people living on the local coasts, like the Irish Sea and the Baltic Sea, which is the most radioactive sea in the world. The documentary focuses on the British sea dumping in the English Channel Hurd Deep about 12 miles north of the Channel Island of Alderney. Alderney is also subject to releases to the sea from the French Nuclear Reprocessing Plant at Cap de la La Hague 12 miles East of the small island. Prof Chris Busby who was consulted on the health effects of this marine radioactive pollution visits the island with the producers and makes measurements of contamination on the beach. Busby originally visited the island in 1998 with Jersey MP Stuart Syvret and found an excess of brain tumours and also general cancer mortality which was written up as a Green Audit paper and became part of a BBC news story at the time. They were both chased off the island.
Manfred Ladwig manages to get Dr John Cooper, head of the UK radiological protection organisation, the HPA, to admit that they balance childhood cancer cases against the advantages of cheaply disposing of nuclear waste. Cooper also agrees that his position involves a conflict of interest since he is head of HPA which takes advice on radiation protection from ICRP. Cooper is on the ICRP committee. He therefore takes advice from himself. We also hear from Prof Richard Wakeford, ex head of research for Sellafield, but now an “independent” expert, also on ICRP, who tells us the coastal child leukemias were caused by “population mixing”. How long do we have to be subject to advice from these clowns?
Prof Busby asks the youtube to kindly leave this alone since he was part of the production and has the right to upload it.
note from RaFL
This excellent film exposes the shocking lies the public are being fed right now.
The best the industry can come up with is to dilute radioactive waste with tonnes of our water: fresh and seawater: “the solution of pollution is dilution”
Plutonium is being deliberately dumped right now into the Irish Sea from Sellafield. The reprocessing plant discharges some eight million litres of nuclear waste into the sea each day! The radioactive particles come back onto the beaches and into the air (as opposed to gaseous radioactive emissions from the plant – that is additional!)
This must stop – where is Greenpeace – they have done and are doing a fantastic and very active job elsewhere in Europe aimed at stopping nuclear madness – why not here in Cumbria?
A Letter to Keep Britain Tidy – Safe Beaches full of Pu (Plutonium)
Congratulations to Keep Britain Tidy on receiving the Barking Dog Award
2013. This is a new award and Keep Britian Tidy is the first recipient
for outstanding promotion of the worlds most radioactively contaminated
beaches as “Seaside Award” winning safe clean beaches.
One example is St Bees where 73 radioactive particles were found and
retrieved up to 2011. That number is increasing. The Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority have now scaled back the monitoring and
retrieval of radioactive particles despite the soaring numbers. The
Seaside Award should be revoked for all beaches in the vicinity of nuclear
plants (including Heysham/Morecambe) and most especially in the vicinity
of the worlds most dangerous reprocessing plant. Sellafield has in the
last few years stepped up its reprocessing activity and associated
discharges of radioactive waste into the Irish Sea. Monitoring and
retrieval of radioactive particles should be stepped up on all beaches in
the vicinity of Sellafield and reprocessing stopped immediately – when
reprocessing has ceased and an increased beach monitoring programme can
find no more radioactive particles on our beaches then perhaps children
can play safely. Until that time it is reckless beyond belief to be
promoting beaches in the vicinity of Sellafield as “safe and clean.”
At Seascale there is “zero tolerance” to dog poo but Pu and other
radioactive particles are scattered like a poisonous confetti cocktail on
the beach with every tide. Despite this the Nuclear Decommissioning
Authority are scaling back monitoring and retrieval citing ‘funding’ as a
reason. This is madness and Keep Britain Tidy have massively contributed
to the madness by awarding Seascale a “Seaside Award” flag. Prior to
Sellafield, West Cumbrian beaches were full of tourists and locals as the
old photographs testify. Sellafield is the reason people quite rightly
are wary of the beaches and the Health Protection Agency advice assumes
that babies, toddlers and young children are not spending hours digging,
rolling around and ingesting/inhaling the sand.
Please, Please, Please reconsider your Seaside Award to West Cumbrian
beaches and instead urge increased monitoring and retrieval of radioactive
particles on the beaches around Sellafield.
Radiation Free Lakeland
More information here:
Environment Agency Report 2011 …
“we are not yet able to show conclusively that the monitoring and
retrieval programme is also significantly depleting the numbers of
‘alpha-rich’ particles in the environment.
• Beta-rich particles, pebbles or stones: if in contact with the skin,
these types of objects could cause temporary skin reddening or minor
ulceration. However, the levels of these isotopes found in these objects
so far are such that only very prolonged contact (many hours) in exactly
the same area of skin would be necessary to cause these effects. The
chance of coming into contact with such a particle, and then for it to
remain in such prolonged contact with the skin, is considered to be very
• Alpha-rich particles, pebbles or stones: although these types of objects
are of little health concern if outside of the body, they could cause an
increased risk of cancer if swallowed or inhaled. While a minority of
these could possibly give a significant radiation dose in the long term if
they were to be accidentally swallowed or inhaled, the chances of
encountering, and of swallowing or inhaling such a particle are considered
to be very low”. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Leisure/Briefing_note_-_Sellafield_beach_monitoring_April_2011.pdf
note Sellafield has removed from the web its reports referred to in this
The Health Protection Agency was asked in 2011 to justify inconsistent response to health and safety of Cumbrians while closing beaches in Scotland…. members of Radiation Free Lakeland have also written to ask about the health implications of a child ingesting a radioactive particle – no answer has been forthcoming, apart from the piffle about “overall risk.”
The HPA limited criteria are as follows. On ingestion risks to beach users, the HPA recommends an urgent review of health risks to beach users if an object is found with an alpha activity greater than 10 MBq (megabecquerels, ie millions of becquerels). On the overall fatal cancer risk to beach users, if this were calculated to ever exceed 1 in a million the HPA also recommends an urgent review of their health risks (the HPA notes that this is unlikely to be the limiting criterion). On skin dose rates to beach users, if these exceed 300 mGy per hour in objects with a Cs-137 activity greater than 0.1 MBq, the HPA again recommends an urgent review of health risks.
The reports’ conclusion against precautionary action follows rather uneasily from the scientific data and observations contained in them: in fact it is at odds with them. The number and strength of the HPA’s caveats support this view.
The conclusion is that although the likelihood of encountering radioactive beach particles appears to be low, the consequences could be serious, especially for infants and children. http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1296685586018 Increased beach use by the public increases the likelihood of encountering radioactive particles alongside the fact that monitoring and retrieval has been decreased in spite of finds going up.
Radiation Free Lakeland has asked Sellafield Ltd to tell us how much it spent on gas last year.
In 2009 Sellafield spent £30m on gas
Since then reprocessing activity has increased. Most of the gas will go towards the insane crash programme of reprocessing activity and the rest to keep the wastes cool.
Sellafield is being tight lipped about its profligate use of fossil fuel – can’t think why!
Today’s Correspondence with NDA below
2011-12 GAS USAGE – SELLAFIELD LTD
It is strange that Sellafield ltd is suddenly tight lipped about its
latest financial years gas usage?
(In 2009 the amount of gas bought in to ensure “security of supply” to
Sellafield was £30 million – FOI REPLY 9781940)
Radiation Free Lakeland request an internal review into the refusal to
answer our 2013 FOI request for the same information.
> Dear Ms Birkby
> We are not in a position to release the price paid for gas used at
> Sellafield, as this would damage the commercial interests of our gas
> supplier (section 43(2) Freedom of Information Act 2000 and applicable).
> In applying this exemption we have had to consider the public interest and
> although release would fall within the category “promoting accountability
> and greater transparency in the spending of public money”, we do not
> consider it is in the public interest to release information that would
> prejudice future contract negotiations or that would have a negative
> impact on the “free market” undermining our suppliers competitive position
> in that market place.
> If you are unhappy with the handling of your request you may ask for an
> internal review. If you wish us to undertake such a review please contact
> me in the first instance. If you are not content with the outcome of the
> internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information
> Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted
> Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
> Judith Hollands
> Information Access Manager
> Tel. 01925 802077
> Mob. 07713 072 700
> NDA, Herdus House, Westlakes Science & Technology Park, Moor Row, CA24
Last week Cumbria Wildlife Trust held their Beached Art event at St Bees. St Bees happens to be one of the beaches near Sellafield where radioactive particles from a crash programme of reprocessing have been found in increasing numbers. The reason for the crash programme is that dumping radioactive waste at sea will be banned in 2020 under the Ospar Convention (this is also the reason for the push for geological dumping). The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s response to this has been to ask for reduced monitoring and reduced retrieval of radioactive particles In other words if you don’t look, you don’t find.
Groups like Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been told about the radioactive particle finds by their members but choose to put their full trust in regulators like Public Health England (formally the Health Protection Agency). The lack of precautionary advice to Cumbrians from the regulators has been flagged up by another government committee called COMARE(Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment). What all these regulators and committees have in common is working from standards that were originally written to protect doctors using radiation and then intended for sending military into radiological areas. These radiation dose ‘standards’ do not take into account the fact that the same exposure is not equally damaging to “receptors” i.e. the public. Even at ages 40 – 60 cancer and other risks from radiation is significantly more for women, than for men.
Radiation linked diseases from ionising radiation depends on the type of radiation, the amount, and the duration of the exposure. But it also depends on who is exposed. Radiation exposure endangers some individuals more than others. In order, the most vulnerable are:
Primary germ cells/ Embryo
Females – both juvenile and adult
The Health Protection Agency’s advice is that toddlers and babies on the beach are less at risk because they “move less” and that the risks are low compared to overall risks beach users take. This is mealy mouthed madness – a pregnant mother can see and avoid the danger of her child drowning in a rock pool – she cannot see radioactive particles being ingested/inhaled by herself or her child. Sellafield reprocessing should stop as a matter of urgency – and the radioactive particle recovery from Cumbrian beaches should be STEPPED UP – not stepped down! Sellafield’s crap making activities should be stopped and CONTAINED rather than dispersed. Groups like Cumbria Wildlife Trust are perpetuating the myth that our beaches are safe from Sellafield.
The Health Protection Agency was asked in 2011 to justify inconsistent response to health and safety of Cumbrians while closing beaches in Scotland…. members of Radiation Free Lakeland have also written to ask about the health implications of a child ingesting a radioactive particle – no answer has been forthcoming, apart from the piffle about “overall risk.” http://www.comare.org.uk/documents/COMARE98minutes.pdf
Once again DECC has refused to honour its commitment to rule Cumbria out following the No vote. …. meanwhile the wastes continue to arrive at Sellafield. The plutonium continues to stack up from dodgy reprocessing. All the while DECC is wined and dined by the nuclear industry looking to pick up government contracts in the £billions. The taxpayer pays again and again for the privilege of being poisoned. http://www.jeremyleggett.net/2012/11/6632/
—————————- Original Message —————————-
Subject: RE: DECC Jokers have not accepted Cumbria’s NO
Date: Thu, May 9, 2013 2:55 pm
To: “Yates Tom (Office for Nuclear Development)”
Too early to rule Cumbria out??? How can you say that given what we know
about Cumbria’s geology and unwillingness.
I think that dump describes it very well -a careless and hurried dump.
The technology does not exist to contain this stuff into eternity, hence
the reliance on geology- rather than careful and unhurried curation (as
in museum curator) of the wastes into eternity.
> Dear Marianne,
> It’s simply too early to say what any future site selection process might
> be, or what if any mechanism it might include for ruling any areas out.
> But wherever the GDF ends up being sited, I would certainly expect
> Government to continue to engage with the Cumbrian local authorities, and
> hope that they would respond to any consultation on these matters – after
> all, most of the UK’s higher-activity waste is currently held in interim
> storage at the Sellafield site (and until a GDF is constructed, is likely
> to remain there), so they have a direct interest in the outcome, as well
> as experience of our existing site selection process.
> Thanks for the definitions! I think my reluctance to use the term “dump”
> is explained under the verb definition – “typically in a careless or
> hurried way”. Yes, we’re looking to dispose of waste – but in an
> exceptionally careful way (the whole point being to ensure public safety
> in the very long term), in a major infrastructure project that’s expected
> to last for well over a century.
> Best wishes
> —–Original Message—–
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: 08 May 2013 14:28
> To: Yates Tom (Office for Nuclear Development)
> Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: RE: DECC Jokers have not accepted Cumbria’s NO
> Dear Tom,
> I really hope that I have misrepresented your position but the word
> “existing” suggests not.
> To clarify:
> Will DECC accept Cumbria’s No as final?
> Will DECC rule Cumbria out (advisory role excepted) of any future
> consultation process on site selection?
> Best regards,
> A site for depositing garbage.
> Deposit or dispose of (garbage, waste, or unwanted material), typically in
> a careless or hurried way.
> Radiation Free Lakeland
>> Dear Marianne,
>> Apologies for my confusion about the NGO forum.
>> I think your email misrepresents our position. Government accepts and
>> respects the decision that Cumbria County Council made on 30 January,
>> disappointing though it was, and as a result of it we ended the
>> existing site selection process in west Cumbria. We have said that we
>> will not make any changes to the site selection process without first
>> consulting publicly.
>> We’re certainly not “rubbishing the qualifications of the Nirex
>> – it’s simply a question of what the Inspector was there to do – but I
>> understand that you disagree very strongly with our conclusions on
>> this matter.
>> As for being “hellbent on geological dumping”, clearly we do remain
>> absolutely committed to geological disposal as the right policy for
>> the long-term management of higher-activity radioactive waste, as I
>> believe does every other country with a legacy of such waste.
>> “Dumping” is not of course a term we would use to describe a
>> multi-billion-pound high-tech underground facility. And we’re
>> certainly not tied to Cumbria – it’s a voluntarist process and the
>> invitation remains open to communities elsewhere in the country to
>> express an interest in joining the programme.
>> Best wishes
>> Tom Yates
>> Managing Radioactive Waste Safely
>> Office for Nuclear Development
>> Department of Energy and Climate Change
>> 3 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2AW
>> 0300 068 5166
>> —–Original Message—–
>> From: email@example.com
>> Sent: 08 May 2013 12:47
>> To: Yates Tom (Office for Nuclear Development)
>> Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Subject: DECC Jokers have not accepted Cumbria’s NO
>> Dear Tom
>> Thank you for your email. I have never been to a NGO forum.
>> It is beyond disheartening to read that DECC refuses to accept
>> Cumbria’s NO to geological dumping in Cumbria
>> Your replies do not answer the questions but they do indicate that
>> Cumbrians have not got through to DECC that we are:
>> a. Not willing (please don’t quote the Mori Poll – it is not even
>> representative of the poll never mind Cumbria) b. Fully aware of
>> Cumbria’s unsuitable geology
>> It seems that DECC is now trying to rubbish the qualifications of the
>> Nirex Inspector saying “The Inspector and his Assessor were not
>> qualified to assess fully the safety case for a geological disposal
>> facility via a planning application..” This is disingenuous. A full
>> safety case would be made only after a suitable site had been
>> selected. Obviously the Nirex Inspector Chris McDonald and his
>> Assessor Colin Knipe were deemed by government to be more than
>> eminently qualified to appraise possible site selection earlier in the
>> process, including preliminary safety cases.
>> The Nirex Inspector was absolutely right when he indicated that the
>> best site in Cumbria was not suitable. If the government is hellbent
>> on geological dumping investigations should be moved to a more
>> promising site elsewhere that are easier to investigate and
>> yours sincerely,
>> Marianne Birkby
>> Radiation Free Lakeland
Radiation Free Lakeland have received a reply from the Department of Energy and Climate Change regarding geological dumping of high level nuclear waste. Their responses to our questions are not just evasive and disingenuous. The replies indicate that Cumbrians have not got through to these jokers in government that we are:
a. Not willing
b. Fully aware of Cumbria’s unsuitable geology
Having tried to rubbish the qualifications of those scientists blowing the whistle on a geological dump in Cumbria and failed, now it seems DECC is trying to rubbish the qualifications of the Nirex Inspector saying “The Inspector and his Assessor were not qualified to assess fully the safety case for a geological disposal facility via a planning application..” This is disingenuous. A full safety case would be made only after a suitable site had been selected. Obviously the Nirex Inspector Chris McDonald and his Assessor Colin Knipe were deemed more than eminently qualified to appraise possible site selection earlier in the process, including preliminary safety cases.
We have not got through to these jokers in government that the Nirex Inspector was absolutely right when he indicated that the best site in Cumbria was not suitable. If the government is hellbent on geological dumping, then investigations should be moved to a more promising site elsewhere that are easier to investigate and characterise.
The Wastwater Gnomes series of 3 comic books are now available at Kendal Library.
CND CYMRU says of The Wastwater Gnomes:
This slim, beautiful book is the first of the Chronicles of Wastwater written and illustrated by Lakeland artist and anti-nuclear campaigner Marianne Birkby. The delightfully illustrated story explores the relationship of Wastwater in Cumbria to the nuclear industry and Sellafield, questioning the sanity of new build when just cooling the existing nuclear waste requires 4 million gallons of fresh water every single day. A 2009 Norwegian government report outlined the potential consequences of a stoppage of water to the cooling tanks at Sellafield as being of a magnitude 50 times worse than Chernobyl. That same April there was a stoppage of cooling water to the high level liquid waste tanks which gave rise to a situation described as being “hours away from catastrophe.” Marianne was inspired to write and illustrate The Wastwater Gnomes by a sponsored walk around Wastwater raising funds for children being born now who are affected by the Chernobyl disaster over 20 years on. One sponsor was a diver. Wastwater is popular with divers who bizarrely place garden gnomes at great depths risking their lives for this odd act of bravado. While they choose to dive that deep, the nuclear industry risks all our lives..” http://www.cndcymru.org/
New Writing Cumbria says of When the Water Flows: “Just as When the Wind Blows confronted gentle, optimistic couple Jim and Hilda Bloggs with the horrors of nuclear conflagration, When the Water Flows features retired Cumbrian farmer Tom and his wife and grandchildren, trying to make sense of Government proposals to find ‘geologically suitable’ sites for the burial of nuclear waste – one of which might be on their doorstep”. http://www.newwritingcumbria.org.uk/when-the-water- flows/comment-page-1/
Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale says of When the Water Flows:
“interesting and insightful”
You won’t remember this, but as wildlife obsessed teenager I painted an exhibition for the junior branch of Cumbria Wildlife Trust to launch “Watch.” That was over 30 years ago. With great sadness I have just cancelled my subscription. While supporting much of what CWT has done over the years, I feel that the good work in protecting wildlife is meaningless while the trust continues to ignore and even condone the biggest threat to Cumbria’s human and wild ecology. The latest issue of the Trust’s members’ magazine effectively promotes new nuclear build with
“Power routes: the Trust takes an active role”.
This article is effectively saying that pylons are the biggest threat from new nuclear build and that CWT is working to find a suitable route. This is nuts! By focussing on pylons the Trust is ignoring the real detriments of which there are many not least the fact that the proposed ‘Moorcide’ plant would burn fuel for longer, resulting in much hotter waste which would require cooling for decades more than existing wastes. There is simply not enough freshwater in the Lake District to safely cool existing wastes without detriment to our freshwater resource. Rather than piffling about with the pylons the Trust should be actively opposing new nuclear build in Cumbria.
Then there is the front page of the latest “What’s On” with beaming faces of children digging in the sand and building sand sculptures at St Bees. St Bees along with all the West Cumbrian coast is beautiful and people do not need much encouragement to spend hours in the sand with happy toddlers and young children. I do not know of any toddler who has access to sand who will not put it in their mouths! Of course, normally this would not be too much of a worry but last year on St Bees beach 41 hot radioactive particles were recovered, including plutonium. That number does not include the airborne and unfound particles. The Trust is promoting a day of digging in this contaminated sand.
It has been known for many years that young children and unborn children are most vulnerable to terrible harm if radioactive particles are ingested. Over the last few years the number of radioactive particles found has been increasing probably as a result of the “crash programme” of reprocessing at Sellafield. Reprocessing is banned in every country apart from here and France because of the harmful radioactive emissions to air and sea and the production of weapons grade plutonium. St Bees was named after the Irish Princess, St Bega who brought Christianity to the area in 900AD. 1.3 million households in Ireland have asked for reprocessing at Sellafield to be stopped immediately. What’s the betting St Bega would agree that there are way too many radioactive particles on the beaches, in the air and in the sea already. Has Cumbria Wildlife Trust asked the Health Protection Agency for advice on the health impacts of ingestion of radioactive particles by young children spending hours digging in the sand at St Bees?
All of the world’s scientific authorities agree that there is no safe dose of radiation and the stuff from Sellafield reprocessing is the nastiest.
The Health Protection Agency have said that experiments are being done with the alpha particles found on the beach at St Bees. Meanwhile we are all taking part in an experiment, the results are being seen by all of us especially mothers and children.
When Cumbria Wildlife Trust finally opens its eyes to nuclear detriment and starts opposing, then me and the natterjack toads will celebrate by renewing my subscription.
Despite increased finds the NUclear Decommissioning Authority (who are they kidding?!) has asked for reduced monitoring…In this document the Health Protection Agency is criticised for inconsistent response to health and safety of Cumbrians while closing beaches in Scotland…. http://www.comare.org.uk/documents/COMARE98minutes.pdf