In 1983, New Scientist claimed that an accident at the Windscale nuclear plant in 1957 had been hushed up. Windscale is now called Sellafield and at the time of this article, CND was at its height commanding massive attendances at its demonstrations. The question nearly thirty years after that article is – was there a disaster in the 1950s or were we all getting carried away in the early 1980s?
The train of events has been detailed by somebody on Wikipedia under Windscale Fire and I’m not going to repeat the Wiki entry. I don’t just cut and paste Wiki on here. I’ve got original newspapers and magazines from the time in front of me and I can tell you what while Wiki claims there may have been an extra 240 deaths from thyroid cancer – the claims in 1983 were of a possible 8,000 deaths.
And what would have been the culprit – why, our old friend Polonium. You remember Polonium? It was what ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had popped in his tea without his knowledge at the Itsu restaurant in London in 2007 leading to his death.
In the 1983 magazine article it was claimed that a radioactive cloud passed over the UK and most of Europe from Windscale. Milk was effected in the local area leading to substantial quantities being dumped in the Irish Sea. The figure of 8,000 cancer deaths was speculated on though as I say, the current Wiki entry has dramatically reduced that figure.
Happy for any feedback on this.