Radioactive Pebble Protest St Bees Beach 8th August

Panoramic from Black Coombe to Scafell.  Sellafield can be seen in the centre with the catchment of St Bees head
Irish Sea Panoramic from Black Coombe to Scafell. Sellafield can be seen in the centre with the catchment of St Bees head
Sellafield and St Bees Head
Sellafield and St Bees Head

St Bees radioactive particles

On the 8th of August from 11am to 3pm Radiation Free Lakeland will be holding a protest at St Bees.

We will be:

*Sand drawing with pebbles. Each pebble will represent one of the thousands of radioactive particles found and retrieved by the nuclear industry’s ‘Monitoring and Retrieval’ program. There is of course no way of knowing how many radioactive particles are not ‘found’.

*Leafletting * placing Radioactive Beach Warning Signs

*Protective clothing, gloves etc used by us on the day will be taken to Sellafield as potential Radioactive Waste.

People should come along at their own risk.

We will have some plastic gloves and masks for protection against contact and inhalation of radioactive particles. Children are most vulnerable to radiation and Public Health England cannot guarantee that children playing on the beach will not inhale or ingest alpha radioactive particles  from Sellafield reprocessing plant.

Our protest has been sparked by Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s continued indifference (despite our conversations with them) to the potential harm their Beached Art event could do to health by encouraging young children to dig for hours in the sand at St Bees.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust say:

Your sand sculpture should be made only from sand and other natural materials found on the beach and be inspired by Irish Sea wildlife. Good luck!

Good Luck indeed! Materials not mentioned are the radioactive particles washed ashore with every tide. There is a programme of monitoring and retrieval by the nuclear industry but this is on hold over the summer to maintain public confidence in the nuclear industry’s policy of dispersal of radioactive wastes to the environment.  These wastes do disperse, with plutonium from Sellafield even travelling as far north as the Arctic but much of it comes back to Cumbrian beaches with the tide.  Especially where there is a natural barrier to dispersal such as St Bees Head.

Increasingly nuclear safety groups are warning that the public has a right to know about the radioactive particles being found on beaches. Nuclear safety groups feel that the public and most especially parents should have the opportunity to make up their own minds as to how long their children should spend playing in contaminated sand.

Jo Brown of Parents Concerned About Hinkley has said: “UK seaside local authorities have become aware that in 2015 the EU Bathing Water Directive will impose strict new standards on sea quality. What they appear not to have understood is that under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, part of the Secretary of State’s duty will be to protect the public from ionising or non-ionising radiation. This means that all UK coastal resorts within the fallout zone of nuclear sites will have to display notices warning tourists and residents that the water is not safe to bathe in”.

Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment have consistently called for warning signs to be placed on Cumbrian beaches. A review making a strong case for the use of signs on West Cumbrian beaches to advise the public on the presence of radioactive particles, has been sent to the Health Protection Agency (HPA now Public Health England), the Environment Agency, the Government’s Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) and other bodies involved in Sellafield Ltd’s beach monitoring programme Full press release here.

Radiation Free Lakeland agree and have been urging groups such as Cumbria Wildlife Trust who encourage families to spend time on the beaches, to acknowledge concerns and at the very least make those concerns known to families attending their beach events. As well as placing the symbolic ‘radioactive’ pebbles, Radiation Free Lakeland will also be placing a sign on the beach which reiterates the government’s own advice

Toxic Coast
Toxic Coast “The Nuvia Argocat following its grid patterns amongst the holiday-makers, who were oblivious to its purpose. .
A find near a pool which, the preceding day, had been the playground for some 2 and 3 year old children.
The investigation has been going on for several years, and each tide, it seems, more particles are found. The basic idea is to use the front-mounted electronics box to provide a rough location for any findings. On discovering a particle, the vehicle is manoeuvred back and forth to more finely locate it. Then a spade is used to remove sand, which is scanned by a geiger counter. The spadeful containing the radioactive material is then placed in the box visible at the rear of the vehicle, before being taken away for laboratory analysis.
Nuvia work on contract to Sellafield. The results of their explorations are published at irregular intervals. “

2 thoughts on “Radioactive Pebble Protest St Bees Beach 8th August

  1. This was a reply from the Marine Conservation Society last year. They appear satisfied with Public Health England saying the ‘overall risk is lower than other risks beach users accept’ ….this is disingenuous. A radioactive particle may or may not be encountered and inhaled or ingested. But if it is then the risk of harm is substantial …and it cannot be anticipated by vigilant parents in the same way that falling into a rock pool can.

    Marine Conservation Society reply to RaFL June 25th 2014 2.56pm

    Dear Marianne

    Thank you for your email and attachment, which were forwarded to Dr Laura Foster, the Marine Conservation Society’s Pollution Programme Manager.

    Laura has asked me to let you know that MCS has been made aware of the problem you describe, and we have been in touch with Public Health England (PHE), who have provided us with their report on the area. The report states that: ‘the overall health risks to beach users are very low and significantly lower than other risks that people accept when using the beaches.’

    PHE has advised, and continues to advise the Environment Agency that, with a continuing monitoring programme in place, no special precautionary actions are required to limit access to or use of the beaches on public health grounds.

    Our Good Beach Guide criteria is based on water quality alone, and as a small charity, we unfortunately are unable to undertake any tests of our own. Because the statutory body advises us that no special precautionary actions are required, we cannot justify putting a precautionary notice on our website without additional independent evidence.

    Best wishes,


    Ann Hunt
    Enquiries Officer
    Marine Conservation Society
    Switchboard: 01989 566017

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