Skeleton In The Closet Of England

Traveling the World as Grey World Nomads we are looking for the beauty of countries and their wildlife. But sometimes we stumble over dreadful truths of environmental issues which leave us flabbergasted and deeply shocked. We write also about these unpleasant facts as they may affect us and our kids sooner or later.

St. Bees, England

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.

Peaceful landscape at the west-coast of England with a scary secret

Built in the late 1940s 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.

Sellafield – one of the worlds worst major concentrations of radiological hazards

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.

Sellafield Nuclear Plant – 90’000 tonnes of radioactive graphite

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.

Sellafield – no one can say if the clean up will be successfully completed by 2030

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!

The Irish Sea – One of the most heavily contaminated seas in the world


Author: George Mostert

Since 2013 I travel together with Marcelle around the world. Finding hidden treasures at the unbeaten trails is where we aim for. We are still discovering best ways to travel cheaply to be able to live our dream. It’s working out quite well up to now. We share our experiences as house sitters and travelers on our websites and hope for a lively exchange with other travelers.

22 thoughts on “Skeleton In The Closet Of England”

  1. 2030 is far away. I hope not much damage happens till then. The sights now are so gorgeous. How I wish the whole world would go nuclear waste free! A pity some inventions turn in to curse.
    First time here through TPT.

  2. I hope the government comes up with a plan to clean the site. Things can escalate if they let time pass. So sad they chose this beautiful part of the country to build the plant.

  3. Considering the post started with a lovely photo of sheep grazing on green grass, it chills me to think that you were actually at a nuclear dumpsite. At least they are trying to clean it up.

  4. Heartbreaking! That’s really all you can say about it. There’s no real solution to cleaning up these sites, and the damage done is irreversible.

  5. As a Brit I got quite worried when I saw the title – there’s plenty of bad things we’ve done that you could pick from! And yes, this is bad. Unfortunately, generating lots of hazardous waste that’s almost impossible to dispose of and lasts almost forever is one of the necessary results of using nuclear power. Why that still makes it a good choice is that there hasn’t been enough investment in alternative sources, and the unwillingness to put aside lots of space for them – nobody wants a wind farm in their back garden.

    Unfortunately, often the problem is dealt with by paying someone else to take the waste. Which usually ends up somewhere so poor that this seems like a good way to make money. You can imagine the problems that come with that, too.

    I don’t see any easy solution, but it terrifies me at the same time. Thanks for bringing light to this, and great photos!

    1. Came as a shock to me too, unfortunately it seems the norm worldwide. After reading up on other nuclear waste sites it seems no country has a viable solution and one can only hope disaster is not around the corner.

  6. The problem is with nuclear power in general and not just Sellafield – huge volumes of radioactive waste produced and no clear plan what to do with it when the nuclear power stations were established (or even now…). And yet at the moment it’s the only long-term option for meeting energy demand. One answer is to reduce energy use on a national scale, but so little focus is given to this – on a global scale it’s all about production and not reduction (when it comes to ‘things’ as well as energy – but that’s another story!). The fact is the waste at Sellafield is the product of processes happening all over the country, but this is the only place where it can be dealt with – at the moment there’s no alternative. So while Sellafield may be controversial and a thorn in our sides, at the current time dealing with this waste is also necessary and unavoidable.

    1. Agreed, I just found it surprising and shocking that this was happening in the UK. With South Africa planning seven new Nuclear Plants I cant imagine what the clean up standard will be. In a country like SA it seems inconceivable, with all that sunshine we should be seriously considering the Nuclear option? Thanks for the feedback and keep well.

  7. Nuclear sites give me the willies. There’s a nuclear power plant within 60 miles of my house, and with the rise of terrorism, I’ve always been concerned that it could be a target. And the waste it produces is sooooo high maintenance!

  8. wow that is one expensive project! and even worse that they are still using it as a dispose site,.. how do they expect to fix it!? .. I so hope they complete it soon too to avoid further contamination!

    1. They hope to complete the clean up by 2030 but this seems unlikely and the fact that is is still being used as a dump site from other power stations around the UK until a better solution is found, we hope that all goes well.

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