Reliable information received by CORE has warned of a significant increase in the number of radioactive objects found on the beaches local to Sellafield in recent weeks and that full details of the dramatic rise is being kept under wraps for fear of creating public alarm.
After 35 finds were originally disclosed to the Environmental Health sub-committee of the West Cumbria Site Stakeholder Group (WCSSG) on 31st May, the number was updated just 2 weeks later to 57 by British Nuclear Group (BNG) in its Sellafield Newsletter of 13th June. From CORE’s information in early July it now stands at least at 69 – a doubling of the number of finds in just over a month.
The objects are known to consist of pebbles, particles and other beach debris, and to show varying levels of radioactive Caesium, and in some cases Plutonium and Americium. The discoveries, unearthed by Sellafield’s new Groundhog monitoring machine operated by Nukem (the company commissioned by BNG to carry out the work), have been made principally around the Ehen (River) Spit, at Sellafield’s North Shore and also on other beaches between Seascale and St Bees.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said to day:
“This is not good news for local beach users and the environment, especially as the school holidays are about to start and unwary visitors arrive at the coast. It also begs the question as to what else has been missed in past years before the new monitoring regime started and why the level of discoveries has suddenly increased so dramatically in such a short space of time”.
The figures given by BNG in its Sellafield Newsletter in June show that 3 radioactive particles were found on Seascale beach, one at St Bees and 33 around the Ehen Spit where 20 radioactive pebbles were also found – mostly on the beach area from where redundant discharge pipelines had been removed. BNG had no explanation as to how the beach pebbles had absorbed radioactive Caesium.
The meeting of the WCSSG’s Environmental Health Sub- Committee on 31st May was also told by an Environment Agency spokesman that BNG had been issued with an Enforcement Notice to use best practice in ensuring that solid radioactive particles were excluded from Sellafield’s sea discharges.
Martin Forwood added:
What else is lurking on the beaches waiting to be found ? We are not reassured by BNG’s view that the beaches remain safe to use. We believe any dose of radiation is an overdose and we’ll be asking for an immediate explanation from BNG and the Authorities about the finds, the health risks, why today’s total has been kept from the public and why further monitoring has inexplicably been abandoned until September.