3rd Installment of the Springfields Archive. “Something is Wrong” The River Ribble Birthing the Nuclear Nightmare

Radiation Free Lakeland have been given access to files relating to Springfields Nuclear Fuel plant near Preston.  Shining a spotlight on Springfields is more important than ever with the Toshiba Westinghouse operation gearing up to produce “high burn” nuclear fuel for the much hyped “nuclear renaissance.”   Have we so sold our souls to the nuclear industry’s sweet lies that we no longer care to look at the radioactive waste going into the river Ribble, Clifton Marsh landfill, the Irish Sea, the air and our DNA?  This is from 1991 – nothing has changed apart from the accelerating and ever more entrenched nuclear juggernaught coming our way and the disbanding of Radmil the county council’s independent radiation monitors.  This article appears online for the first time…..


Lancashire Evening Post


November 22nd 1991


‘Natural’ radiation ruled out


A suggestion that radiation contamination in the Ribble could be due to sources other than the Springfields factory at Salwick has been refuted by Preston environment health director Tom Meredith.


At Preston Counicl’s environmental health committee meeting Counc Geog Haines said members needed to establish wheter some of the pollution came from natural sources such as granite or was washed down from Sellafield.


Mr Meredith said the Radmil monitoring organisation, the county council’s nuclear watchdog, had tested the Ribble and there was no radiation along it from granite. The elements wihc formed the source of the Ribble pollution could only have come from Springfields.


Referring to the Friends of the Earth report which sparked off the uproar over Ribble contamination, he said the group had done a “snapshot” sample in May and found levels unusually high.


The picture changed dramatically after May but the group had taken that one finding as an annual average.


It had also adopted its own standards without explaining the basis for them. Radmil’s findings were based on National Radiology Board standards and he was satisfied that the risk to health was minimal.


He added that the radioactive elements had a life of about 24 days and BNFL monitored in a way specified by the Government’s Directorate of Pollution.


But Coun Ron Ball said : “Something is wrong somewhere and we want it put right for the health of the people of Preston.”


Coun Mark Buckley was also unhappy with the situation. He criticised the level of monitoring done by BNFL and said he would not trust the company.


“Friends of the Earth is an organised campaigning group and BNFL has a position to defend. We are in the middle and have nothing to gain from antagonising either but we want to establish the facts.”


Chairman Coun Jacky Nagy said she was not satisfied that the standards laid down were adequate and at her request the committee called for an urgent top-level meeting to discuss the whole question of discharges from Springfields and the level of contamination in the river.


Councillors will be asking the county council. BNFL, health authorities and the National Rivers Authority to meet them to thrash out the problem.



Lancashire County Council is to seek assurances that commercial considerations are not preventing lower radioactive discharges into the River Ribble.


Council leader Coun Louise Ellman said emissions of radioactive waste from British Nuclear Fuels’ Springfields plant must be the lowest possible.


She also called on BNFL not to pump increased amounts of radioactive waste into the Ribble.


Coun Ellman said today: “My concern is that we should always have the lowest possible radioactive releases. Arguments like the one BNFL is using, saying that the levels are below nationally accepted standards might well be true. But we should be seeking levels as low as reasonably achievable.”




“The thing I am most concerned about is the allegation from Friends of the Earth that BNFL has the technology to achieve lower and less damaging releases but that they are not doing it for commercial reasons. I think the key point is that if the technology is available to reduce the discharges then it should be used. If there are commercial reasons why that technology is not being used then the public should be told.”


The council has ordered a specific study by Radmil – the authorities radiation watchdog – to be presented to the next policy and resources committee on November 28th.


The report will make special reference to the Penwortham area near Preston highlighted in the Friends of the Earths report.

4 thoughts on “3rd Installment of the Springfields Archive. “Something is Wrong” The River Ribble Birthing the Nuclear Nightmare

  1. Enriched uranium found in stream sediments near UK nuclear fuel facilities

    The British Geological Survey has performed a pilot study on the isotopic composition of uranium found in stream sediments near nuclear fuel facilities in the United Kingdom. Samples were collected between 1979 and 1989 downstream from the following facilities:
    Drigg, Cumbria (part of the Sellafield complex),
    BNFL Springfields facility, near Preston (conversion and fuel fabrication),
    URENCO Capenhurst uranium processing complex (enrichment)
    Uranium concentrations found in Drigg and Springfields stream sediments were about 20 times background, while those in Capenhurst were up to about 3 times background.
    U-238/U-235 isotope ratios observed in stream sediments at Drigg and Springfields were in a 114.0 – 125.4 range (corresponding to 0.79 – 0.86 wt_% U-235), while those observed in Capenhurst were in a 54.8 – 63.0 range (corresponding to 1.55 – 1.77 wt_% U-235). For comparison: the U-238/U-235 ratio for natural uranium is 137.9, corresponding to 0.72 atom-percent, or 0.711 weight-percent U-235.
    Without any detailed knowledge of the isotope ratios of the uranium released by these facilites, BGS was not able to determine what fraction of the uranium found in the stream sediments is attributable to the nuclear fuel facilities.
    Uranium anomalies identified using G-BASE data – Natural or anthropogenic? A uranium isotope pilot study,
    by SRN Chenery, EL Ander, KM Perkins, B Smith; British Geological Survey, Internal Report IR/02/001, 34 p., Keyworth, Nottingham 2002
    > Download full report external link (2.5MB PDF – by courtesy of BGS)

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