Ticking Boxes by Duncan Ball – Jailed for Trying to Blow the Whistle on Sellafield

Reposting this – feeling very conflicted – on the one hand, happy that dedicated fracking activist Tina is so very well supported by NGOs and has been spared a jail sentence… but on the other hand so sad that Duncan who was an activist in these difficult times of nuclear cheerleading was not given the same kudos. He was working to raise awareness about the dangerous practices within this entrenched industry which is destroying our future.  He was  jailed with barely a ripple of media interest or empathy. Kind of speaks volumes.

RIP Duncan ….you Hero!

Duncan Ball outside Sellafield during peace vigil of 2007
Talented poet and former nuclear foreman Duncan Ball outside Sellafield in 2007.

Ticking Boxes

The boxes are ticked by those men who’ve been picked, from the keenest

Of yes men there, for checks done each day so the bosses can say, that

Their workforce takes extra care.

But the bosses were tricked by some men that they picked for a job that

All liars can do composing old fiction that begs a

Conviction for writing what still isn’t true.

But on they run with boxes ticked, while welding’s cracked and

Something’s dripped, inside the cell where Foremen looked: for hours on

End in ‘Logs and books recording all the names of crooks who would’nt

See and didn’t look, behind those windows two foot feet, where fell a

Steady drip of ticks.

Soon crystals formed as crystals do, from tiny holes where pressure grew,

A mist of droplets spewing out, a sight that should have brought a shout

From the Foremen ticking thrice each day when signing names for easy pay:

The country paying bigger lumps to lazy men for growing dumps.

Some columns formed with lost control, as Foremen ticked and shirkers

Stole five minutes here then hours there forsaking safety’s measured stare

For extra tea and flashy things, that overtime some boxes bring with

Elements whose mass can change the genes of everything in range.

Trapped outside their ticking box where spillage flows like molten rocks

With dangers left to grow unseen until one idle Chargehand’s scream said

“Shut it down and do it quick before we’re all in deepest shit there’s been

Another situation, critical to every nation.”

By Duncan Ball

Talented poet and former nuclear foreman Duncan Ball died on July 17th aged 49. He was a man who tried repeatedly to blow the whistle on unsafe practices in the Magnox plant at Sellafield where he was employed as a foreman. His subsequent experience followed the same route as the dissident scientists who were sacked from Sellafield after expressing doubts about nuclearsafety in the 70’s (NEW STATESMAN July 1983)

Having tried all avenues to raise the alarm about unsafe practices causing releases of radiation, in 2004 Duncan left what he called a “literary bomb” in the Sellafield visitor centre. This was nothing more harmful to the general public than a disc which contained a detailed log of dangerous practices within Sellafield. Duncan who lived in Penrith was jailed for 2 years.

Duncan was a Founder Member of Radiation Free Lakeland . He was described and discredited by the nuclear industry as “obsessive” but the truth is he was a hero whose only crime was trying to alert his employers and the wider public to dangerous practices in the nuclear industry. His voice will still be heard for generations to come through his wonderful and prescient poetry – Cumbrians should listen to the truth of what Duncan had to say

Duncan died in 2009 before being “compensated” by the nuclear industry’s Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases.

6 thoughts on “Ticking Boxes – a poem by Duncan Ball – Sellafield worker for 20 years”

  1. He served a year of the two year sentence….meanwhile the criminals responsible for Fukushima are plotting to build 3 dangerous reactors next to the world’s biggest stockpile of plutonium, And to add insult to injury we are asked to take part in their COnsultation to “shape their plan”

  2. Thank you so much for posting this poem. 6 years have passed and uncle duncs words are still being posted, quite poignant in the current political age, I wonder what me uncle dunc would of made of a torie nuclear age!

    • Many thanks for your message Sarah. Duncan was a wonderful poet and his words have far more relevance to Cumbria today than Wordsworths… I would love to publish a book of his poems online and even better in a book to hold!

  3. I met Duncan whilst in Durham prison, very sad to learn he died he told me of him illness but still so sad very very nice man and a pleasure to call him a friend

One thought on “Ticking Boxes by Duncan Ball – Jailed for Trying to Blow the Whistle on Sellafield

  1. Pingback: Ticking Boxes by Duncan Ball – Jailed for Trying to Blow the Whistle on Sellafield – Radiation Free Lakeland | AGR Daily News Service

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