Radioactive Mermaids – why should we care?

Cumbria Wildlife Trust's Radioactive Mermaids
Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Radioactive Mermaids

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




Some genotypes

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.”

Click to access COMARE98minutes.pdf

Poster to display

Radiation More Harmful to Women and Children

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