Set up originally as the Barrow Action Group by local residents in 1980 to protest against the use of Barrow Docks for the import of foreign nuclear fuel for reprocessing at Sellafield, the Group subsequently changed its name to CORE – Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. With the name change came an extension of the campaign remit to cover all aspects of Sellafield’s operations including reprocessing and its associated environmental discharges, nuclear waste, nuclear materials management and transport, and the health detriment to local communities and wildlife.
By the mid to late 1980’s, public and media interest in Sellafield’s plan to build a new reprocessing plant (THORP) was such that, as part of its overall campaign, a Fact Pack and Leaflet were produced as campaign tools and were widely distributed throughout Cumbria.
The wording of the Leaflet, as below, captured the mood of public concerns on Sellafield and the detriment from its new THORP plant
The much loved character of Cumbria has been shaped by man’s ability to extract an existence from the land and sea, living in harmony with a rich variety of wildlife. Fells, estuaries, lakes and woodlands are the backdrop to a setting enjoyed by countless generations.
Who could foresee that this playground for yesterdays children would harbour an invisible danger. The water we drink, the food we eat along with the very air we breath, now all bear the hallmark of man-made nuclear pollution. The fabric of Cumbria that has sustained all forms of life for so long is now tainted.
Birds, animals, plants and marine life, along with people, all have to live within this changed environment. Like our own generations yet to come, they depend upon us to safeguard their future!!
In summary, CORE’s campaign aims were, and remain today, to bring an end to reprocessing, to halt the environmental discharges and the export/import of nuclear materials, to expose health damage and prevent Cumbria becoming the nuclear dustbin for the world. The campaign has been run locally, nationally and internationally – with a special focus on Sellafield’s overseas customers.
To combat Sellafield’s well-financed public relations ‘spin’ via its Visitor Centre and site bus tours, CORE conducted an ‘alternative tour of Sellafield’ throughout the 1990’s. The tours, around local villages and coasts and which highlighted some of the local problems that British Nuclear Fuels would rather have ignored, were enjoyed by the public, schools and universities, the media, other campaign groups, politician and even some of Sellafied’s foreign customers.
The tours were stopped in 2001 after the 9/11 event in the USA , when Sellafield’s own internal site bus tours were axed and security levels inside and outside the site were raised. However, the links on CORE’s Alternative Tour interactive map have been retained as a record of Sellafield’s radioactive footprint on West Cumbria.
Other major campaign commitments from year 2000 onwards have been the battle against the subsequently rejected proposal by NIREX to site a deep underground waste dump in West Cumbria, and to the plans for the Sellafield MOX Pant to make plutonium fuel. Opened in 2001, the plant never meet its targets and was abandoned in 2011 at a cost to the taxpayer of over £1Bn.
As we move towards 2020, we remain focused on reprocessing (both plant now due to close by 2020), and are geared up to challenge – yet again – the renewed efforts by Government to impose an underground nuclear waste dump on West Cumbria, the plans by private consortium NuGen to build three nuclear rectors on the Moorside site adjacent to Sellafield, and on the options for managing the UK’s 140 tonne stockpile of plutonium.