Traveling through one of the most gorgeous of England’s countrysides of the Lake District we reached the lovely west-coast holiday village at Saint Bees. Unfortunately only a couple of days into our stay we stumbled over a skeleton in the closet of England, hidden just around the corner. We were sleeping next to worlds worst nuclear dumpsite – Sellafield United Kingdom.
Built in the late 1940
s to produce Britain’s first nuclear weapons program Sellafield has become a dumping site for the UKs nuclear waste for the past 60 years that continues even today.
It is also the site of the first nuclear commercial power station built in the UK. Gorden Thomson of the USA Institute for Research and Security Studies and an expert on Sellafield maintains, that the sites high level liquid wastes are one of the worlds worst major concentrations of radiological hazards and pose a significant threat not only to the surrounding area but to Europe as a whole.
In the 1950`s such was the rush to build a nuclear weapon that low levels of radioactive waste was dumped via pipeline into the Irish Sea. Resulting from these discharges Greenpeace allege that the Irish sea remains one of the most heavily contaminated seas in the world with no hope of ever cleaning it up.
Researches and Scientists today are still unsure of how to proceed and a budget of more than £ 79 Billion has been allocated to “clean up” the site (no chance of cleaning up the Irish sea). Clean up operations had begun by 2010 and with the dismissal of a private company and the re-nationalization the operation continues. With upwards of 90,000 tonnes of radioactive graphite and 60 years of dumping waste into “ponds” – each several times larger than Olympic size swimming pools – which have to be cooled by constantly circulating water through these ponds of nuclear waste.
In 2013 Sellafield was fined £ 700,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £ 72,000 after it was found guilty of sending bags of low level contaminated waste to a local landfill site. The clean up is expected to be completed by 2030 but no one can really say with any surety that this will be the case.
Set on the Mid West coast of England only five miles from the small seaside town of Saint Bees and on the doorstep of the Lake District lets hope that the work is completed and no further contamination takes place.
The potential for a calamitous disaster is very real and must be taken seriously!