Is it OK to have radiocaesium and transuranics in a childrens area on the beach?
Sellafield and the UK regulators think so.
Last thursday Radiation Free Lakeland were invited to Cleator Moor Civic Hall for the West Cumbria Site Stakeholder meeting (Environment and Health).
We have deliberately shunned these meetings thinking that they are PR exercises for the industry. The meetings are billed as a way of holding the industry and regulators to account but our experience on thursday confirmed our suspicions. We were invited to the meeting to make a presentation on our citizen science project with nuclear science students in the US. We had been sending samples to the US from the whole of the Cumbrian coast for over a year. The US undergraduate student’s findings shocked us. A full third of the samples taken were contaminated with material that can only have come from decades of Sellafield’s reprocessing.
At the meeting we listened from 1pm to 4pm to the industry and the regulators congratulate themselves endlessly for “reducing emissions” (continuing piling on the crapola in word and deed) and then we got a chance to make the 15 minute presentation at 4pm. There was no press in the room. We had told them we would be there but apparently they never bother going, instead they prefer to wait for Sellafield’s press release.
The chair of the meeting was clearly biased in favour of the industry and even went so far at the end of the meeting to say that “if only you came and listened and understood more the gap between us (!) would be bridged”. I took that to mean that if we were only browbeaten enough we would learn to love Nukiller Big Brother and not hold them to account with our pesky questions.
There are not enough people holding the nuclear industry to account. That much is clear.
The plan revealed from Sellafield is that they intend to reduce the beach monitoring and retrieval of radioactive particles even further to a nominal “reassurance” monitoring.
At the meeting Sellafield and the Regulators agreed with the substance of the nuclear science students report and findings but disagreed on the risk to the public saying it is “very low.” Clearly the risk of encountering radiocaesium and transuranic elements on Cumbrian beaches is far from “very low” with the elevated risks to children being just so much collateral damage.
This is a scandal and it is ongoing.
On the Beach
Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of exposure to high-energy gamma radiation. Internal exposure to Cs-137, through ingestion or inhalation, allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue, exposing these tissues to the beta particles and gamma radiation and increasing cancer risk. Children are most vulnerable
The transuranium elements found with a dessert spoon and no testing equipment on Cumbrian beaches (also known as transuranic elements) are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92 (the atomic number of uranium). All of these elements are unstable and decay radioactively into other elements. Transuranic elements can be artificially generated synthetic elements, via nuclear reactors or particle accelerators.