Nearly nuclear disaster in England

This video from Britain says about itself:

Windscale, Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster (Nothing compared to Fukushima).

Uploaded on Sep 16, 2011

Fifty years ago, on the night of 10 October 1957, Britain was on the brink of an unprecedented nuclear tragedy. A fire ripped through the radioactive materials in the core of Windscale, Britain’s first nuclear reactor. Tom Tuohy, the deputy general manager at the site, led the team faced with dealing with a nightmare no-one had thought possible.

“Mankind had never faced a situation like this; there’s no-one to give you any advice,” he said. Tuohy and his men were confronted by a terrifying dilemma.

If they let the fire burn out, it could spread radioactivity over a large area of Britain. But if they put water on the reactor, they risked turning it into a nuclear bomb that could kill them all.

Now tapes of the inquiry into the accident, heard for the first time in a BBC film, reveal the reasons why the politicians covered up the causes of the accident. Scientists had been warning about the dangers of an accident for some time. The safety margins of the radioactive materials inside the reactor were being further and further eroded.

“They were running much too close to the precipice,” says Dr Dunworth, a senior manager in the Nuclear Research Laboratory in Harwell, Oxfordshire, who was one of those highlighting the potential dangers.

But the politicians and the military ignored the warnings; instead they increased demands on Windscale to produce material for an H-bomb.

For 50 years, the official record on the accident has been that the very men who had averted a potentially devastating accident were to blame for causing it.

“I resented it at the time,” says Peter Jenkinson, who was an assistant physicist at the reactor, “and I hoped the record would be put straight.” After the inquiry, he and his colleagues finally got their wish.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Sellafield bosses play down near catastrophe

Wednesday 12 June 2013

An investigation has been launched into a near catastrophe at a nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbria – despite bosses’ attempts to downplay the seriousness of the incident.

A chemical used in the process was mistakenly placed in the wrong storage tank.

The error was spotted before the reprocessing of radioactive material began, averting a disaster which could have wrecked the reprocessing system.

Sellafield Ltd, the private company which operates Sellafield nuclear power station, confirmed today that an investigation was taking place into how the error happened.

The company said there had been no threat to its staff or the environment.

But the Manchester-based Nuclear Free Local Authorities secretariat said it was “alarming” that Sellafield Ltd had classified the incident as a “non-radiological event.”

The incident happened at Sellafield’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) on May 14.

It involved two chemicals in the reprocessing system, formaldehyde and hydroxylamine.

Cumbrians Against a Radioactive Environment spokesman Martin Forwood said: “Both are used in the operation to reprocess spent reactor fuel but at wholly different stages of the process and for completely different outcomes.

“A holding tank was inexplicably filled with the wrong substance – formaldehyde instead of hydroxylamine.

“According to Sellafield Ltd the mistake was discovered before the contents of the holding tank, located in advance of the plant’s radioactive process system, could be transferred into the spent fuel dissolution process itself.

“Despite the early discovery, the event was deemed sufficiently serious for the Office for Nuclear Regulation to be informed and an internal investigation initiated by Sellafield Ltd.

“But because the holding tank was ‘outside’ the reprocessing system itself and the formaldehyde had not yet become radioactively contaminated, the mistake was accordingly classified as a ‘non-radiological event.’ As such it falls outside the requirement for the event to be reported publicly.”

He said that had the error not been spotted “the consequences of introducing formaldehyde into the first stages of fuel dissolution could have been catastrophic for Thorp’s internal workings – and had the potential to initiate a site accident.”

Nuclear Free Local Authorities group chairman Mark Hackett said the incident “could have led to a major accident at the Sellafield Thorp plant.”

He said: “To also hear that it has been reported in a different way to classify it as a ‘non-radiological event’ is equally alarming, as quite clearly putting formaldehyde rather than hydroxylamine into a holding tank would have had far-reaching consequences if it had not been discovered.

“Though I am relieved that the mistake was found before it could have had major consequences, the low-key way it has been reported worries me that the Sellafield site owners are trying to avoid full responsibility for mistakes on the site.”

See also here.

2 thoughts on “Nearly nuclear disaster in England

  1. Pingback: Nuclear waste danger in England | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: French Macron, nuclear war president? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.