A Letter to Cumbria Wildlife Trust – Radioactive Castles in the Air

1980 - Image for Cumbria Wildlife Trust by teenage wildlife enthusiast
1980 – Image for Cumbria Wildlife Trust by teenage wildlife enthusiast
Beached Art - Radioactive Sandcastles
Beached Art – Radioactive Sandcastles
Cumbria Wildlife Trust - Nuclear Good - Pylons Bad
Cumbria Wildlife Trust – Nuclear Good – Pylons Bad
Child eating sand...
Child eating sand…

Dear Cumbria Wildlife Trust,

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.

yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby
Wildlife Artist


Since this report more particles have been found with increasing regularity – it is worth noting that the HPA’s assessment criteria for advice given is narrow and does not include for example ingestion by toddlers digging sand sculptures…

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….

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