Windscale : Britain’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster
Over the last few months we have seen the subject of nuclear power pushed back on to the political stage, as the UK authorities strive to look for alternative power sources to replace the UK’s falling oil and gas reserves. While wind and sea power have been billed as potentials for the future, it is the subject of nuclear power (the only real alternative in many people’s eyes) which has grabbed the headlines.
This program covers the UK’s worst nuclear disaster, which occurred in 1957 at the Windscale Nuclear Reprocessing plant in Cumbria. Initially the disaster started as a small fire, although this quickly ripped through many of the main buildings, making its way to the core which housed the nuclear reactor. Despite the brave attempt by a number of technicians to subdue the fire, a significant amount of radioactive particles were released in to the atmosphere.
This program follows the government investigation into the incident, and the final report which savaged the technicians who put their life on the line to try and contain the blaze. Many thought that the technicians were made scapegoats for some glaring investment issues with the plant, and we hear the whole unedited version of events from many who had first hand experience.
Such was the anger from the locals and work force, not to mention the plants overseas customers, that the government took the strange step of later changing the name of the plant to Sellafield, in a blatant attempt to disassociate Sellafield with Windscale. The plant itself has long been a matter of great controversy in the area, because although it brings thousands of jobs to the area, and supports local economies, there have been a number of “small scale” releases since 1957.
A truly enlightening look at the world of nuclear power, and the risks which have been present since day one.