The whitewash of nuclear safety

Gordon Murray
on : 
2nd Jun 2016
Bulletin item expiry date: 
2nd Jul 2016

The Nuclear- Free Local Authorities reported by the Sunday Herald at the weekend on the risks posed by terrorist attacks on nuclear plants and shipments of radioactive material calls for the distribution of iodine tablets to the more populated areas of Scotland in addition to those living in the three kilometre radius of nuclear plants. This is as reassuring as the Government’s ‘Protect and Survive ‘ advice almost four decades ago on how to survive a nuclear strike when we were told to paint the walls of your house white and hide under the kitchen table.

The saturation of the thyroid with stable iodine will reduce the uptake of the cancer inducing unstable radioactive isotope Iodine-131, if you can remember where you put the pill or can get access to it in the resulting mayhem of an attack.

The problem is that there are no pills to counteract all the other radioactive fission products that will also be present: the highly radioactive Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, the very long lived Actinides which includes Plutonium, and much else besides. All this nasty stuff will be in the air, soil, water supply and entering the food chain. Not to worry. The nuclear industry is safe. Just take your pill and forget about all those pesky terrorists.

The nuclear industry has been involved in this type of deception since its inception and on every continent where it operates: from the cover up of the fire at Windscale in 1957 to the present day. As I write, 12000 litres of brine every day are pouring into the abandoned Asse salt mine in Germany which was secretly used in the 1960’s to store 20 Olympic size swimming pools of highly radioactive waste. No-one knows how to clean it up but we do know that it will take decades and the cost will run into billions of Euros. The list is endless.
A spokeswoman for the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said: “Duty holders within the UK civil nuclear industry are required by ONR to demonstrate that they have resilience against a range of external threat scenarios”.

Well thank heavens for that. I feel so much safer now. Now where did I put my pill? I’m off to read another chapter of ‘Protect and Survive’ and dream about the tooth fairy!