Sunday, 16 August 2020
Sellafield nearly goes bang, and The Guardian totally misses story
I find it impossible to comprehend the Guardian news agenda priorities, which includes a full column article on a comedian halting a live performance because an audience member was filming it ("'You've ruined it, "August 15), but no room at all in the print version, or on line, to report that a "routine" inspection at Europe's biggest and most dangerous nuclear plant at Sellafield, uncovered unstable stored chemicals with the potential to explode in the same way as the chemical stash at the Port of Beirut did so with catastrophic consequences earlier this month. Sellafield contains huge quantities of highly radioactive and chemically toxic liquid nuclear waste stored in decrepit tanks, all urgently requiring renovation and modernisation. But more importantly, Sellafield is also the home for the biggest single stockpile of explosive plutonium on the planet: some 140, 000 kilogrammes of a material named after the god of Hell. To give an indication of its damage potential, the atomic bomb that immolated the Japanese city of Nagasaki in an instant 75 years ago this month, killing 70,000 people, contained just 6.4 kilos of plutonium. Do the maths! In light of this, the national nuclear safety regulator - the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) - should make public what exactly Sellafield Ltd told them about this incident and when; and make clear whether they were given a written report; and say whether they approved of explosive chemicals being stored in the vicinity of highly hazardous nuclear materials. Sellafield Limited, the plant operator on behalf of the Government-owned Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, should come clean on: when the potentially explosive material was discovered ; in what quantities; what potential explosive capacity the chemicals contained; explain why was it stored where it was; how close it was stored to nuclear materials; why was the whole site evacuated; when were the local emergency authorities informed; how sure are they there is no other overlooked explosive cache in the site; and reveal whether any such incident has happened before at Sellafield? I find the whole incident astonishing; and the reaction of the safety authorities complacent in the extreme.