An auction to be held at Workington on 17th April includes the sale of two West Cumbrian Beaches. Held by H&H Land and Property Ltd of Carlisle, the auction consists of 16 Lots currently owned by the Curwen Estate – with Lots 15 and 16 being the beaches at Lowca and Flimby respectively. The former is located just north of Whitehaven and the latter just north of Workington.
Given the lack of specific data on Lowca and Flimby beaches, local anti-nuclear group CORE [Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment] has written to H&H Land and Property Ltd warning of the potential for both beach Lots to show some evidence of radioactive contamination and that, as land agents selling the beaches, there is a duty of disclosure to potential purchasers of the presence of contamination – the extent and levels of which can only be confirmed through a more robust programme of monitoring.
As with other West Cumbrian beaches, the foreshores at Lowca and Flimby will have been affected to some degree over the years by Sellafield’s radioactive sea discharges and both have the potential to be ‘populated’ with radioactive stones and particles similar to those detected under the on-going programme of beach monitoring initiated by the Environment Agency in 2006 and which routinely reveals a significant number of radioactive ‘finds’ on the target beaches adjacent to Sellafield.
The Lowca and Flimby beaches are not specifically identified as target beaches under the monitoring programme. They are situated in a coastal area – stretching from Whitehaven northwards to Allonby – where radioactive particles have already been found, yet which undergo only a very limited form of monitoring (far fewer days per year and a significantly smaller percentage of actual beach area covered) when compared to officially targeted beaches such as St Bees to the south of Whitehaven. Sellafield Ltd’s most recent report ‘Particles in the Environment, Annual Report for 2011/12 and Forward Programme’ (published June 2012) confirms that it is on these targeted beaches that ‘a significant proportion of monitoring effort is focused’.
Whilst coastal areas lying south of Sellafield are well documented as being contaminated, the prevailing sea currents tend to carry the radioactive discharges northwards from the site along the west coast of Scotland to the North Atlantic and North Sea and beyond. Annual monitoring reports such as the Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) publication and that published by Sellafield Ltd itself, show the presence of a cocktail of radioactive materials at varying levels northwards along the West Cumbrian coastline, including the areas in which Lowca and Flimby are situated.
CORE has also advised H&H Land and Property Ltd that whilst stones and particles are recovered and removed from beaches during the monitoring work, the evidence shows that beaches become re-populated with similar materials within a matter of weeks – replenished from Irish Sea deposits via tide, wind and storm action.