Killer ‘hot particle’: Sellafield coast ‘like Chernobyl and Fukushima exclusion zones’

Today in the Ecologist – Expose of the damage the nuclear industry is doing to us and to our environment –  by Chris Busby…..


‘Hot Particle’  plutonium -americium found in the Esk Estuary, Cumbria

Killer ‘hot particle’: Sellafield coast ‘like Chernobyl and Fukushima exclusion zones’
Chris Busby

The discovery of a tiny but deadly radioactive ‘hot particle’ in mud from the Esk estuary near Sellafield has highlighted the dangers the nuclear site poses to residents and visitors, writes Chris Busby. Independent measures of radiation show far higher levels that those of regulators, similar to those of the Chernobyl and Fukushima exclusion zones. Local villages should be evacuated.

The hot particle scenario at Sellafield beach is the same as in the inner Chernobyl contamination zones. The radiation dose rate is about the same as the 30km zone of the Fukushima reactors shortly after the disaster.
I am angry to the depths of my soul that the earth has been so injured while we were all bemused by supposed monuments of value and intellect, vaults of bogus cultural riches… Sellafield, which pours waste plutonium into the world’s natural environment, and bomb grade plutonium into the world’s political environment. For money.

So wrote US author Marilynne Robinson in Mother Country in 1989, a few years after the 1983 discovery by Yorkshire TV (video embed below) of the child leukemia excess (ten times the expected number) at Seascale, a village next to the Sellafield nuclear site.

In the documentary, presented by a young David Dimbleby, we see the evidence and a debate between Professor Ed Radford (who started me out on my radiation enquiry in 1991) and a young Wilks on one side, and two men from British Nuclear Fuels.

Despite the Black Inquiry [1], a court case (Reay and Hope vs BNFL), several reports from the National Radiological Protection Board NRPB and their Alice in Wonderland Mirror, COMARE, no one pointed out that the science behind all the protestations of innocence is bogus.

The court case was lost for the same reason. Martyn Day the solicitor was advised to use the fathers’ exposures and genetic risk as a strategy – a mistake that cost them the case. It was the direct exposures from the beaches that were the cause of the child leukemias, not the fathers.

So all BNFL had to do to win, was to show that there were leukemia children whose fathers did not work at Sellafield. Which there were.

There is no single measure of ‘radiation’

The essential problem was that everyone assumed that there was a valid scientific way of measuring radiation which applied equally to all kinds of exposure, and that it produced a number, called the ‘dose’ which could be used to quantify biological damage (and therefore child leukemia).

BNFL argued that the fact that there was a lot of plutonium on the beach and in the houses at Seascale was not enough. To get enough ‘dose’ from plutonium, the children would have had to eat some kilograms of house dust. Accepting this nonsense, the late Prof Gardner (and the court case) attempted to get around this by arguing that it was a genetic effect delivered by the fathers’ sperm.

A mistake, as I wrote to Martyn Day at the time, and also to Gardner. But Gardner (aged 50, not a smoker) went into hospital with lung cancer just after I sent my letter, and never came out.

The 1984 Black Inquiry was less easily fooled. Sir Douglas Black recommended two new independent outfits to investigate the problem. They were the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) and the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, (COMARE).

COMARE was quickly infiltrated by the nuclear industry faithful, and produced one biased report after another exonerating Sellafield as a cause of the child cancers. It used the same ‘dose’ argument as BNFL in the documentary, as did NRPB’s evidence to Sir Douglas.

Initially COMARE toyed with the idea of population mixing and an unknown virus as the cause, but conceded there was no population mixing at Sellafield. However, its latest 17th Report, published last year, finally gave way and decided that it was population mixing after all.

Contamination of the seashore? What contamination?

This seashore contamination has, since 1983, spread to the coast of north Wales where it is measured and where there was a 18-fold child cancer excess by 2004, and to Carlingford in Ireland (see Wolves of Water, Busby 2007) with similar effects.

Well, what is the fuss about? What should the locals and holidaymakers be afraid of?

Video: ‘Windscale – The Nuclear Laundry’, first broadcast on Yorkshire TV, 1st November 1983.

I was sent a scanning electron microscope (SEM) photograph by Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) the local anti-nuclear NGO. A sample from the tidal estuary of the river Esk near a popular coastal path. I was asked to comment. I show the SEM picture in Figure 1 (above right).

It was collected by CORE for Arnie Gundersen during his brief visit to Cumbria and given to Dr Marco Kaltofen from Boston MA, USA who measures particles. Marco told me on the phone that there were many such particles found in this mud sample. His machine also uses X-ray fluorescence, and can identify the elemental composition of any particle. The XRF spectrum is inset. It shows that the particle is made from Plutonium and Americium.

I knew already that the mud in that area was highly contaminated with plutonium. CORE had sent me samples in the 1990s which I still have and which I use to calibrate my gamma spectrometers. One of those had 22,000Bq/kg Plutonium-239 together with about the same amount of Cs-137 and a host of other nasty isotopes.

Killer isotope of the future: Americium 241

But this is the first time I had seen the villain of the piece, the hot particle. You need some fancy gear for that. Plutonium-241 is a major effluent from Sellafield, a beta emitter with a half-life of just 14 years turning into the alpha emitter Americium-241 with a half-life of 432 years.

The full article can be read here












Protestors gather at nuclear site to remember Japan Disaster

Thanks to the Lancashire Evening Post for coming along – the article rather underplays the enormity of Springfields role in the nuclear story (uranium conversion and nuclear fuel manufacturer to the world, Toshiba Westinghouse who run the Springfields site constructed the Fukushima reactors, Sellafield and Springfields colluded to manufacture  MOX fuel).  The article also underplays the ongoing damage from Fukushima – but at least it is a recognition that we were there to witness the 6th Anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

Extract from article in the Lancashire Evening Post

Protesters gather at nuclear site to remember Japan disaster

An anti-nuclear protest was held near Preston as campaigners remembered those affected by the Fukushima disaster in Japan six years ago this weekend.
Marriane Birkby, who organised the protest, said: “This was a small but determined protest.

“Although there was only two of us, it was short notice, and we lit candles and had a moment of silence to remember the Fukushima disaster.

Photo Neil Cross
Marianne Birkby and Sam Morris staging an anti nuclear protest outside Springfields nuclear plant on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Photo Neil Cross Marianne Birkby and Sam Morris staging an anti nuclear protest outside Springfields nuclear plant on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

“This was a horrendous incident and the people in that area may never be able to return back to normal.

“We have recorded a short video too which several people have watched online.

“We just wanted to raise awareness of what nuclear power is doing because it is very much an issue that is often overlooked.

“Hopefully by doing this today some people will see what we’ve done and take some notice of the dangers of nuclear work.”

Photo Neil Cross
Marianne Birkby and Sam Morris staging an anti nuclear protest outside Springfields nuclear plant on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

Photo Neil Cross Marianne Birkby and Sam Morris staging an anti nuclear protest outside Springfields nuclear plant on the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

more here from the Lancashire Evening Post

Tomorrow we stand at Springfields, the birthplace of the nuclear nightmare, to Remember Fukushima

Remember Fukushima.jpg

Dear Friends,   Tomorrow, March 11th, is the sixth anniversary of the ongoing Fukushima disaster in Japan.  Members of Radiation Free Lakeland invite people to join us in a vigil outside the Springfields nuclear fuel plant in Preston at 2.30pm March 11th (just 5 miles from the PNR frack site).  We will be at Kirkham railway station at 2.00 for car shares to the site.

Springfields was the worlds first nuclear fuel manufacturer and makes nuclear fuel (and converts uranium) for many countries worldwide including Japan.  We believe it is no accident that Springfields and Toshiba/Westinghouse’s key role in Fukushima (and Windscale and other nuclear catastrophes) goes well under the radar.  That silence takes a lot of effort from vested interests.   We hope that people can join us and be silent no longer.  Tomorrow we stand at the birthplace of the nuclear nightmare.  We stand in solidarity with people all over the world to say REMEMBER FUKUSHIMA

The following is a message from our friends at Fairewinds in the US

Even though so much has happened in the world since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to three nuclear meltdowns and widespread radiation releases, it is crucial to remember that this international fiasco has no end in sight. For the tens of thousands of people in Japan who have been forced to evacuate, this disaster is a daily struggle. Six years have now passed since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster began in Japan, and people from Fukushima City and the surrounding area are subjected to social stigmatization including bullying of displaced children in schools, loss of their ancestral lands and livelihoods, and unacceptable conditions of radiation exposure and their significant life-long health impacts. The world is only beginning to realize the huge impact of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns on the Japanese people and Japan’s once pristine and unique environment.  Japan and Fukushima Prefecture Photo Journal <>By Arnie Gundersen  During last winter (2016), I spent most of February and early March in Japan working with and speaking to citizens, refugees, community leaders, elected officials, engineers, doctors, and scientists. At their request, I taught scientists and citizen scientists how to collect accurate radiation data, and also spoke to many groups of Japanese eager to learn about the scientific and engineering hazards of operating 50 nuclear plants in the most seismically active country in the world.   The scientific impact of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi is an ongoing disaster that was never envisioned by the engineers who created and designed these atomic reactors and countries who built them. Even after Three Mile island (March 26, 1979) and Chernobyl (April 26, 1986) no country in the world with nuclear power reactors was prepared for the explosive radioactive contamination of Fukushima Daiichi.  See the Photo Journal and further Commentary Here <> Radioactive Conditions lead to Radioactive Clothing <> <> <> <> <> During the past six months, radiation cleanup workers from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture sent articles of clothing they had worn during their cleanup efforts to a bona fide independent lab for accurate detection, sampling, and testing of radiological and chemical samples. In a joint project with Fairewinds Energy Education, Dr. Marco Kaltofen with WPI’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Program, has analyzed the clothes data from the testing for radioactive particles and activity. When Dr. Kaltofen began analyzing radioactive measurements from a jacket worn by a radioactive debris worker, he found evidence that between 111 and 240 Bq/kg of Cesium 134 and 137 (134Cs + 137Cs) had contaminated the worker’s clothes. It is important to remember that the people working to clean up after these meltdowns are exposed to these conditions every day, including volunteers as young as high school students. We must unite to support these people with accurate radioactive dose assessments, make sure that others do not receive these astronomical exposures without adequate knowledge of their exposure levels and protection against them, and ensure that an event like this never happens again anywhere in the world. Follow More of Dr. Kaltofen’s Work Here <> Fukushima News: Japan Today: 6 years after nuclear disaster, residents trickle back to deserted towns <> It was recently announced that the Government of Japan will lift evacuation orders for four Japanese towns including parts of the town of Namie located only 4km from the decrepit remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As Japanese government housing subsidies run out, people are returning to areas that are still contaminated with unacceptable levels or radioactivity, and still border storage sites for contaminated soil. The radiation data the government is using to justify the resettlement accounts for background radiation present in these towns, however it does not account for radiation hotspots and highly radioactive particles still present. Read Full Article Here <> Kyodo News: TEPCO to examine inside of Fukushima No. 1 reactor Tues. with robot < On Tuesday, March 14, TEPCO will attempt a robotic mission into Reactor No. 1 to take better stock of the condition of the reactor. This comes after several unsuccessful attempts at locating the melted fuel in Reactor No. 2. TEPCO has previously acknowledged that ALL of the fuel in Reactor No. 1 has melted through, but refuses to believe that’s the case for Reactor No. 2. If Reactor No. 1 is in even worse condition than Reactor No. 2, how can they expect a better result? Read Full Article Here

Remember Fukushima: Six Years On Anniversary Events in London

6th anniversary events in London 2017

RALLY venue change:

We were recently notified by the police that Old Palace Yard is now  going to be occupied by TV & sound equipment for a Commonwealth Day event.

So on Saturday 11 March 2017 the rally will now take place at Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street.

twitter: @remembFukushima  • facebook:



Thursday 2 March – Sunday 30 April 2017

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

’20 millisieverts a year’ an exhibition about Fukushima by Lis Fields

nb 40% of the exhibition is in the hallways and so viewable whenever Conway Hall is open; 

60% of the exhibition is in the Brockway room, which is frequently in use, so please ring Conway Hall before visiting to check the Brockway room is open before you visit:

Phone: 020 7405 1818



Friday 10 March 2017

outside Japanese Embassy101 Piccadilly, London W1

17:30 – 19:30

speakers and performers to be announced


Saturday 11 March 2017

assemble outside Japanese Embassy, 101 Piccadilly, London W1

12:00 for start at 12:30

followed by:

RALLY venue change:

We were recently notified by the police that Old Palace Yard is now  going to be occupied by TV & sound equipment for a Commonwealth Day event.

So on Saturday 11 March 2017 the rally will now take place at Richmond Terrace, opposite Downing Street.


14:00 – to approx 16:00


RSVP to:

Wednesday 15 March 2017

19:00 – 21:00

Committe Room 9, House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1

nearest tube station: westminster

please arrive at the Cromwell Green (8) entrance at least 20 minutes early to ensure enough time to pass through security:

speakers tbc



previous 6th anniversary Remember Fukushima events in London:


Tuesday 21 February 2017

Room 116, main building

SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), London WC1H OXG

‘Fukushima: The Silent Voices’, a film by Chiho Sato and Lucas Rue

19:00 – screening, followed by a Q&A with the directors


Thursday 2 March 2017

Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Phone: 020 7405 1818

free event, all welcome

’20 millisieverts per year’ exhibition opening reception:

18:00 – 19:30

Screening of ‘Nuclear Japan’ a documentary about Fukushima, by lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai

Japanese with English subtitles

19:30 – 22:00


Violence to Farmland by the Nuclear Industry Has been going on for Too Long. ENOUGH!


300 boreholes being drilled at “Moorside”  actually this is a vast 1400 acre area between the once farming hamlet of Sellafield and the village of Beckermet.  The area covers several farms including Greenmoorside from which “Moorside” insensitively takes its name.  Where is Melvyn Bragg?  Silent!!!

The News and Star reported this week on the “devastation” felt by a Cumbrian farmer who has been given a year to leave the land in order to make way for “Europe’s biggest nuclear development.” There are many more farmers who will lose their land and livelihoods.  Some farms would be  immediately buried under the 1400 acre area earmarked for the diabolic nuclear reactors and associated sprawl.  Others would inevitably lose their livelihoods in the future from inevitable accidents and incidents should Moorside go ahead.

The wildlife both marine and terrestrial that would be left devastated by Moorside both immediately and in the future is beyond comprehension, which is maybe why Cumbria Wildlife Trust and others have chosen to turn a blind eye.  There is no excuse for this terrible wilful neglect by those who are tasked with the protection of Cumbria.

Volunteers Radiation Free Lakeland have been deliberately marginalised and ignored and on occasion laughed at by those same groups who profess to love Cumbria and a sustainable future.. it does get wearing…but the struggle is essential and we urge others previously standing on the sidelines to take a stand against new nuclear build.  Everything else is meaningless if we cannot use the land, the sea and our  rivers running from the mountains to the sea for anything but a receptacle for the nuclear industry.

News and Star - Violence of the Nuclear industry Farm snatching.jpg
News and Star

Who remembers Melvyn Bragg’s tears reported all over the media at the National Trust stepping in to buy a Cumbrian farm?

The Guardian reported last year: “Lord Bragg, a native of Cumbria, lambasted the trust’s actions, branding it a “disgraceful purchase” and a “nasty piece of work”, adding that its opening bid of £200,000 above the £750,000 guide price to put off other potential buyers was “straight out of the mafia”.In a letter to the Times, he accused the National Trust of behaving badly and accused its director-general, Dame Helen Ghosh, of behaving “dictatorially”.

Lord Bragg has refused to even answer any of our letters regarding the violence being done by the nuclear industry to the farmland on the fertile plain between the mountains and the sea at “Moorside”  (actually several farms, between the once farming hamlet of Sellafield and the village of Beckermet, including Greenmoorside from which “Moorside” insensitively takes its name).  This is the fertile plain where fell farmers traditionally brought herdwick down to overwinter.

The National Trust bought up land to protect it for wildlife – at some point it may be farmed again whereas  the nuclear industry is buying up land to pollute it (and us) forever into eternity.


Remember Fukushima: Wales


Our friends PAWB, PEOPLE AGAINST WYLFA B tell us that:

“On March 11, we will be remembering that exactly six years have passed
since the triple explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
reactor site. Over 150,000 from Fukushima Prefecture were forced to leave
their homes to flee from radiation, the majority of which are still living
in many different parts of Japan. It is likely that many of them will never
be able to return to their homes. We also know that 300 tonnes of
radioactive water flows EVERY DAY through the site of the Fukushima
disaster into the Pacific Ocean. So the crisis there is as acute as ever,
and we support calls for an international response to this environmental,
economic and social disaster.

Seven movements in Wales will be supporting an anti-nuclear event in The
National Library, Aberystwyth on Saturday, March 11. The speakers will be:

Jill Evans MEP, Plaid Cymru – Leaving Euratom, What Next?
Alice Hooker-Stroud, Leader Wales Green Party – Wales’ energy fufure and
our communities
Julie Ward MEP, Labour North West England – Fukushima’s experience –
nuclear power never again
Peter Smith, ex-engineer at Hinkley Point – Delusion, Denial, Deceit
leading to Danger, Disater and Death
Selwyn Jones, Cymdeithas yr Iaith – Wylfa B and the threat to the Welsh
Reinhard Uhrig, Global 2000 Austria – campaigning experiences and Austria’s
legal challenge to the financing of Hinkley Point C

There will also be two wokshops led by:
Linda Pentz Gunter, from the Beyond Nuclear movement in the USA on
American impressions of Toshiba and Hitachi’s financial troubles and plans
for Small Modular Reactors and advice on how to empower the anti-nuclear
struggle in Wales.
Sean Morris, Nuclear Free Local Authorities and Dewi Llwyd Evans, Ynni
Ogwen outlining success of renewable projects led by councils and

On behalf of PAWB, Dr.Carl Clowes said:

“This will be a very important event which will take the anti-nuclear
campaign in Wales to a more intense level at a time of major woldwide
problems for the nuclear industry. The only way new nuclear power stations
can be built in England and Wales will be with huge publicly funded
subsidies. We call on the UK Government and Welsh Government to recognise
this and to reject the dirty, dangerous, environmental and health
threatening and extremely expensive technology of nuclear power. They
should follow the examples of other countries who recognise that the
sensible and responsible way forward is to develop decentralised energy
systems based on renewable energy in all its diverse forms, and battery
storage of electicity which is rapidly falling in price.”

For those in the North West there will be a Vigil to Remember Fukushima outside Springfields Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing Plant, Salwick, Nr Preston from 2.30pm on the 11th March.   Springfields is run by Toshiba Westinghouse and owned by the British Government (may soon be Kepco running the show – the vested interests will do anything to keep the whole shebang going until we say ENOUGH) . Who ever the interchangeable front companies end up being, Springfields would make the fuel for Wylfa B and Moorside and all the other new cancer factories planned for the UK….Unless…


BILLIONS from the Public Purse to Poison Us All With New Cancer Factories

From the Telegraph ….

Yeo: Treasury needs to pour billions into nuclear projects
The Treasury is facing calls to pour billions of pounds into a string of troubled new nuclear projects which threaten the UK’s energy supplies.

Tim Yeo, a former environment minister and energy committee chairman, is warning that the only way the Government can avert a crisis for the country’s nuclear programme is to take a direct financial stake in the projects.

Ministers should also actively encourage investment from nuclear companies in China, South Korea and Russia where the the industry is relatively insulated from the challenges faced by European companies thanks to strong state backing, he said.

Tim Yeo
Tim Yeo Credit: Geoff Pugh
Ministers are wary of involving the foreign powers in its energy security plans and have steadfastly resisted taking on the financial risk involved in nuclear construction.

In a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark, the Tory grandee says there is a real danger that the pipeline of nuclear projects will fail to come on stream before 2030 unless Government agrees to intervene. Mr Yeo said the existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before the nuclear plant begins producing power.

In neither case would the Government’s support constitute a permanent subsidy.Tim Yeo
The Government should offer loans to developers which can be paid back once the plant comes on stream, or take an equity stake in the project which could be sold off to investors when construction is complete.

“In neither case would the Government’s support constitute a permanent subsidy. It would directly cut the cost of electricity produced by the new plant because the Government’s borrowing costs will be lower than those of any private investor,” Mr Yeo writes.

The UK is banking on the 3.2GW nuclear power plant to provide as much as 7pc of the country’s energy by the middle of next decade. However, the Hinkley Point, Moorside and Sizewell B projects have all been dogged by delays and concerns over whether the multi-billion pound investments can be shouldered by the companies.