Article in German National Press – Taz by Daniel Zylbersztajn 21. 4. 17
(translation not perfect – with help of google and others!)
Nuclear power in North West England
In the shadow of Radiation
In the home country of the British nuclear industry doubts about nuclear power are unpopular. Nuclear power opponents still do not let up.
Around Sellafield: A green wide field and a nuclear waste reprocessing plant
in Sellafield is a reprocessing plant for nuclear waste from around the world, surrounded by buildings filled with radioactive material.
From the cemetery of an old church Marianne Birkby points to the distance. A large grassy area opens up, in front of ancient bog. In the cemetery stands a 1,000-year-old grave with druidic inscription. “That’s Moorside” said Birkby, “where the government would like to put down three new nuclear power plants.”
On the horizon stands a huge industry silhouette, named after the former village Sellafield. Here in the North West of England right after World War II, Britain’s first nuclear power plant, which was first called Windscale and produced plutonium for the British nuclear arsenal. There was a large reactor accident in 1957, this is still a reprocessing plant for nuclear waste from around the world, filled with radioactive material in buildings.
It is a high-security area. As Birkby with a small anti-nuclear group visits the memorial of the victims of 1957, a public space in front of the double barbed wire fence, there are waiting police. The officials require the identity of the group and watch them until they return to the parking lot, “for security reasons”.
According to reports, the state of Sellafield is critical. Huge cooling ponds have seeped through cracks in the concrete into the ground water for years. It also flows radioactive water into the Irish Sea. The former director of the state disposal operator Sellafield Ltd, Jack De Vine, called Sellafield in a BBC program a “ticking time bomb”.
Most recently, part of the leadership of Sellafield Ltd and the former constituency MP Jamie Reed. “For family reasons,” the Labor politician announced at the end of 2016, he was giving up his parliamentary job after eleven years. In January, he became Director of Development and Community Relations at Sellafield Ltd. As a result there are now new elections in the constituency Copeland where Sellafield is.
Yes to new nuclear power – for the climate.
The election should be for Labor really a problem. The Labor Party has held Copeland for 80 years. But Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn manages to make this choice for nail-biting, he was in the past, critics of nuclear power.
Presented at the so-called energy coast of Britain Corbyns attitude not only for the Labor MP Reed a problem. Economic alternatives to Sellafield there are few in this region, apart from the tourist Lake District. A father walks with his two children at the marina in Whitehaven is because quite typical: “I have a shop in Whitehaven and the business depends on the purchases of the employees of Sellafield,” he says. “That’s why no party comes into question for me that jeopardizes that.”
Jamie Reed has already advertised for the planned new nuclear power plant Moorside, an extension Sella Fields. Since his retirement Copeland knows no parties, only nuclear power advocates. The Conservatives quote on their leaflets Labor leader Corbyn with the phrase “I say no to nuclear power” and show their own candidate Trudy Harrison before the Sellafield facility where she once was project manager.
Labor does not cite Corbyn prefer, but sends Reeds follow a nuclear girlfriend into the race: Councilor Gillian Throughton that the nuclear power Yes “without ifs and buts” says Her husband works at Sellafield in the security area. Liberal Democrat Rebecca Hanson supports the planned new nuclear power plant Moorside, “adhere to the climate targets,” as she writes the taz.
The UKIP candidate is fully behind “nuclear revival”. Meanwhile tweeted also Corbyn: “I support new nuclear power in Copeland as part of a better energy mix to have the lights on and prevent climate change.”
sits in a terraced house with a view of Whitehaven Stuart Armstrong, 57, in his living room. “Sorry I’m late, just feeding the birds” he begins. Standing above the fireplace are two Buddhas, on the stairs in the hallway, a third, with incense. Armstrong talks about his work at Sellafield from 1976 to 1994.
“Souvenir,” he says, reaching for an old 3M protective mask. “That’s all they gave us to hell and back again. They said only that the work could affect our sperm count. Cancer, heart and stroke no one said anything. I was 16 when I started. I believed them and took the extra money. ”
At Sellafield Armstrong’s duties included carrying radioactive objects,” without the large protective clothing he recalls. “Today, the same work is done by robots”. In 1994 Armstrong was hospitalized with a brain hemorrhage at the age of only 34 years. Armstrong looks at his hands and begins to enumerate.
“Dwayne, from my team: Jeremy dead. Severe arthritis. Jam, I worked with: dead, who had a brain tumor! Shaun: dead! Steve. Simon. Big Boy. Tex. Marley. Charley Roger, he had heart failure with 49 dead, Eddie, who had cancer and was given compensation. Duncan burst dhis protective suit, and he was exposed to uranium dust. ”
The union was not interested, says Armstrong. On compensation he had to make himself knowledgeable. He was unlucky. Although cerebral hemorrhage can be a consequence of radioactivity, it is not one of the recognized Sellafield work consequential damages. Armstrong believes when doctors suspect something, they are sent away or put under pressure.
“If I was not always so exhausted I had applied for a job at the elections itself as an independent and telling people what’s going on,” says Armstrong. “If they had told me from the beginning, the truth – I would have never in life my life worked there.” Now he had neither power nor money to continue fighting. Good days he spends painting.
Ten times higher leukemia rate
Stuart Armstrong is not alone in looking for truth in the British nuclear station. The anti-nuclear group “Cumbrians against a radioactive environment” (CORE) is one of those. There have been 690 radioactive incidents between 1950 and 2001. “In the end everything will come out, it’s only a matter of time,” assured the two CORE-Gründer Janine Allis Smith and Martin Forwood. one of about 25 pairs of parents whose children around 1980 suddenly had leukaemia . The leukemia rate was around Sellafield ten times higher than elsewhere. only half of the sick children survived Her son was one of them, they were lucky.
Other rare tumors people began dying of Allis-Smith recalls. They believed the radioactive waste water piped into the sea was a cause. While plutonium is fixed to the seabed, it dissolves gradually and returns to the beaches and from there with the wind inhaled. she explained. “At that time we were like all at the beach,” says Allis-Smith. Even today we see parents with children and dogs on beaches near Sellafield.
1992 CORE complained against Sellafield. One reviewer claimed that the leukemia cases were not due to radioactivity, but “brought the newcomers” to a virus. With this theory of nuclear power operators won the case. Since then it is officially called, that no increased risk of cancer exists.
constituencies: On February 23, the members of the English constituencies Copeland and Stoke Central are newly elected. Previously, both Labor MPs had resigned.
Fears: Labor could lose both – Copeland to the Conservatives, Stoke Central to UKIP. Stoke populists would win its first previous Labor seat in Copeland, a government party opposition would for the first time in 35 years remove a seat. (dj)
CORE remains skeptical: Although today is less radioactive material would actually discharged into the sea than before, but in the yearly soil samples you would never dig deeper than one centimeter. “The older and deeper very radioactive layers are ignored,” warns Allis-Smith: “In a storm surge the old material is released.”
In addition to CORE there is the group “Radiation-Free Lakeland” with 650 members on Facebook. It has come to an unannounced action in the pedestrian area of Workington, a place north of Whitehaven. Dressed as radioactive barrels the activists collect signatures for the disclosure of local cancer information. They encounter restraint: After two hours, they have gathered a dozen signatures.
Nature has to be brought back into balance
, the 41-year-old John, who observed from a café the spectacle explains the dilemma. “In my opinion, nuclear power is safe, because I work at Sellafield. But people like that are out there asking questions (translation?)
Jack Lenox is a 29-year-old software developer, who is candidate for the Greens. He comes from the south of England and is vegan. He would be happy already with 5 percent, he says. ” I am fighting against the belief that there are no jobs in the region without new reactors,” he says. “That’s not true. Sellafield will have jobs for many decades in decommissioning. ”
The Green complained that training opportunities in the region is aimed unilaterally to the needs of the nuclear industry. “Nuclear power is not a solution,” he says. Cumbria has to bring nature back into balance – there are more and more floods , heavy rain, it was necessary to provide urgent reforestation.
But Lenox barely penetrates. Only in the tourist market town of Keswick is found on the streets of a Green voters. The concerns of 23-year-old Chris Davids are about the cannabis legalization, not Sellafield. “Because if that explodes, we won’t notice it here”