2019 – “An odd use of time and effort”

2019 – “Campaigning against nuclear is an odd use of time and effort”

This year we have wasted a whole lot of time!

Thank you to all who have contributed either actively to our campaigns or with donations .

All of which goes directly to campaigning for a world free from the civil/military nuclear vampire squid whose tentacles have us in a deathly grip squeezing the pips to keep the whole nuclear shebang going. We want the nuclear industry to spend their time, expertise (and public money) containing the existing wastes – NOT to make ever more of them (if you would like to donate to enable us to continue our campaigns and resistance to the vampire squid in 2020 the PayPal address is Wastwater@protonmail.com ).

Thank you all.

Here is just a small selection from Radiation Free Lakeland’s 2019. Hold on to your hats…

we were invited to join the Environment Agency’s beach monitoring at St Bees. This followed our own citizen science project of 2018 carried out with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in the US which found shocking results of Sellafield contamination of a full third of samples. We asked the Environment Agency if we could witness them taking a sample from the St Bees beach play area but they refused to do that, so we chose a sample near the tide.

The sample was taken in February 2019 and the Environment Agency got back to us with the result in November 2019 – only 9 months! We showed the results to Dr Marco Kaltofen from the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program at WPI whose response was: “These results indicate serious contamination, particularly for the transuranics. These activities are utterly unacceptable. They exceed our US EPA soil screening levels based on the potential for ingestion, particularly for children and toddlers. They also are an inhalation hazard.” The same response from Dr Ian Fairlie a UK expert on radiation in the environment.

On March 19th 2019 Cumbria County Council voted unanimously to approve the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Cumbria has a whole host of passionate climate campaigners and high profile climate experts living in the County. There are high profile folk (for example Jem Bendell, Kate Rawles, Mike Berners-Lee ) who have travelled the globe from their base in Cumbria talking passionately about climate change so when this plan for a coal mine was first mooted in 2014 we thought it would be laughed out of town. We were wrong and by 2017 we realised that there was going to be no opposition to the mine from climate activists – so we started a dedicated campaign to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to share the information we had researched, to hold protests, petitions and to counter the spin from West Cumbria Mining that “this is for steel for wind turbines” “it will be environmentally friendly” “carbon neutral” and other PR guff. This action paid off and a few more people are now on board with the realisation that this mine is bad on so many levels, not least the proximity to Sellafield. We have through grit and determination, with the help of top lawyers Leigh Day and through the generosity of so many people, now ensured that we can challenge the decision by Cumbria County Council. The coal mine is not a done deal- watch this space!

We joined with other groups to “Surround Springfields” on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Springfields Nuclear Fuels near Preston (just five miles from the much more publicised fracking site of PNR) is the birthplace of the nuclear wastes washing up on West Cumbria’s beaches. Springfields is where nuclear fuel is produced for both civil and military use for here and for overseas. The day saw a gathering of folk from all over the UK dressed in nuclear waste barrel costumes with an evening of live conversation with indigenous people in other countries with a webinar about the impacts of uranium mining and waste.

The day was record breaking – a colourful, and peaceful show of resistance and remembrance outside the UKs nuclear fuel manufacturing plant . Notable also was the total lack of banner headlines from national and local media despite the myriad of press releases and notifications sent out. There is a cynical train of thought that we must be doing something right to be so ignored?
On the same day we also got thrown out of the local church hall we had paid for the use of – thrown out by the irate curate who did not like our art exhibiton on uranium mining one little bit! It seems that while the churches have given unequivocal blessing and social license to climate protests…nuclear power (twinned with nuclear weaponry) is a more devious serpent – a more charming vampire squid. There is no “permission” to actively oppose nuclear power, at least not since Tony Blair’s days, but we oppose nevertheless.


We fought hard to persuade planners not to give retrospective planning permission to a new nuclear laundry which had already been operating on the Lillyhall business park without planning permission for over a year. We shall contine to lobby for this radioactive laundry to be returned to the Sellafield site.

From the News and Star

“A “nuclear laundry” serving Sellafield has been given retrospective planning permission to carry on amid safety warnings from an environmental campaigner.

Marianne Birkby, of pressure group Radiation Free Lakeland, objected to Energy Coast Laundry’s application for the Lillyhall industrial estate outside Workington

Winscales parish council has also “strongly” opposed the 
business’s continued operation amid claims the company was “flouting regulations” and “trying to get permission through the back door. But laundry bosses claimed the initial failure to apply for the proper planning permission was merely an “oversight”.

Almost 1000 people protested against a similar nuclear laundry opening in France – the reasons – water use, chemical and radioactive pollution etc. Exactly the same reasons why the so called ‘Energy Coast Laundry’ should be returned to the Sellafield site as soon as possible.


Sellafields new modus operandi seems to be to push as many of their operations as possible out into the public domain as possible- from nuclear laundry to atomic kittens.

This is a list of questions sent to Sellafield regarding the cats that are being ‘rehomed’ from the worlds riskiest nuclear site.

“Dear Sellafield – To Whom it May Concern
Hope you have had a good Christmas!
I would like to ask the following questions on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland
The questions relate to the rehoming in 2019 of cats from the Sellafield site

  1. Why weren’t the cats rehomed ‘in-house’ with Sellafield staff? (this would have allowed some control of rehoming ie not with young families and allowed ongoing monitoring of the cat and host’s health)
  2. What methods were used to ensure the cats sent out to animal charities were ‘safe’ from radioactive contamination? (Alpha emitters cannot be detected even from a small distance. If a cat should have eaten prey from an area contaminated with alpha particles the radiation monitor would not pick this up – and the alpha particle may be lodged within the cat’s body until such time as for example it sneezes or defecates)
  3. How many cats were culled on the Sellafield site in 2019 because they were found to be too radioactive to rehome’. What has happened to the bodies of these cats?
  4. How many cats have been sent out to local animal organisations/charities to rehome?
  5. What financial arrangements has Sellafield made with these organisations/charities?
  6. What measures have Sellafield put in place to make sure that this scenario of Sellafield cats being put out for rehoming by members of the public, including young families, never happens again? The fact that staff had continued to feed the cats (a stated reason by Sellafield for the explosion in cats) after being told not to, indicates a humanity but also a lack of discipline in an industry that does not allow in any way for human error.

There is a whole host more we have done this year that hasn’t been included in this round up (not least the amazing dedication and tenacity of RaFL member David Autumns in exposing the regulators lack of public protection by their subservience to the industry – cracked old reactors such as at Hunterston B and Heysham should be shut and kept shut! )

Cumbrian based climate expert Mike Berners- Lee said in his book “How Bad are Bananas” that “campaigning against nuclear seems like an odd use of time and effort.”

We hope we will one day not have to waste time and effort in holding the nuclear industry to account – but the World Economic Forum, newly branded as some kind of climate saviour is pushing new nuclear like there is no tomorrow . If they have their way there won’t be.

All are very welcome to join us in “an odd use of time and effort” in 2020


4 thoughts on “2019 – “An odd use of time and effort”

  1. David Autumns

    Thanks Marianne, what time we have had we have spent it well this year. Here’s to 2020 Let’s hope the powers that be finally get crystal clear vision of the damage continuing their support for Nuclear Power really causes. All the very best Dave

  2. ireneirenesandersoncouk

    Wowza Marianne! With admiration for your devotion to our future and with such panache and creativity. Looking forward to joining you wasting time in the warm company of good people who are bonded by the love of our planet and of peace. Irene Sanderson, North Cumbria CND

    1. Thank You so much Irene – Here is to North Cumbria CND and all our CND friends and other friends fighting the nuclear monsters. Looking forward to more panache (well, panache may be putting it a bit nicely!) and creativity from all us Radiation Free Lakelanders and our good friends in 2020 Xx.

  3. ireneirenesandersoncouk

    Yes indeed here’s to the brilliant new path that we shall forge through this decade already webbed with threats from those afraid of the wisdom of nature. Xx

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