Radiation Free Lakeland have been given access to the Spingfields Archive. Here is the second installment published by the Lancashire Evening Post on 20th November 1991. Published online for the first time here.
Exclusive: Scientist admits gap in monitoring
A-Plant Fails Test
By David Cragg
- Ministry orders regular Geiger counter checks
- ‘Hot Spots’ not fully tested for 45 years
- Sellafield ‘dominated’ radiation levels
Nuclear safety officials at the centre of an atom scare today admitted that for almost 45 years they have not carried out full radiation tests along the River Ribble.
Scientists at the BNFL Springfield’s plant at Salwick, near Preston revealed that they only began wide-ranging riverside searches for radiation hot spots this week.
The news comes just days after Friends of the Earth claimed children playing along the river at Penwortham, near Preston, could be receiving large doses of radiation from mudflats allegedly contaminated by discharges from Springfields.
The report coincided with a Granada TV investigation into the A-plant – which makes fuel for nuclear reactors – in which a former worker claimed three of his daughters died from illnesses linked to radiation.
Today it was revealed that BNFL failed to carry out tests, which specifically located the high beta radiation hot spots on the Ribble, and a Springfields physicist admitted the tests have only been introduced in the last week.
Today Lancashire County Council leader Coun Mrs Louise Ellman called for BNFL to stop discharges from the plant and said a special study by the council’s own radiation watchdog, RADMIL , was to be carried out. Local residents have also demanded urgent meetings with BNFL chiefs.
This week independent researcher Paul Brown, from Southport, revealed he found high levels of beta radioactive contamination – which can be harmful in high doses – in river mud.
Friends of the Earth has produced similar readings and claims BNFL has failed to meet legal obligation to reduce radioactive discharge levels below newly- imposed limits.
BNFL has carried out riverside monitoring to find gamma radioactivity and taken random samples to monitor beta levels but without testing for beta hot spots with Geiger counters.
Now BNFL has been ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to begin regular Geiger counter checks.
Area Health Physicist (Environmental) for Springfields, Roger Wilson said that previously radioactive pollution from the Sellafield nuclear plant was so high that pollution from Springfields was considered negligible.
He said: “We only began measuring beta radioactivity as part of the official programme last week. Previously Sellafield dictated people’s exposure to radiation, since their emissions were so much higher. As that plant has got a grip of discharges and the environment has adjusted, so the importance of Springfield’s discharges has grown.”
But he reassured the public that discharges were well below safety levels.
Mr Brown welcomed the move to monitor beta levels and said: “It is a vital part of assuring that strict safety levels of radioactivity are adhered to. The only way of locating where hot spots might develop in the area is to take Geiger-counter readings of the mud.
There is an excellent fact sheet on the nuclear fuel cycle from the
Springfields is at the beginning of the nuclear chain. Uranium is mined in far off countries, shipped by sea to Ellsmere Port, and then taken by road to Capenhurst where it is converted to uranium Hexaflouride.
Once enriched it goes by road to Springfields, near Preston to be converted into fuel rods. Radioactive waste from Springfields is dumped into the River Ribble and Clifton Marsh. An activity set to explode if the government gets away with its obscene agenda of building new nuclear plants.
RADMIL – The independent monitoring of radioactive discharges in Lancashire was disbanded a couple of years ago due to council cuts, just at the time when the nuclear industry is looking to release ever more radioactivity to the environment.