Taking a Leak - 2
Regular readers will know by now that I reserve much scorn for politicians who, in my humble opinion, and in spite of their initial good intentions, invariably seem to end up as corrupt self serving hypocrites.
For several years I had a nodding acquaintanceship with Jack Cunningham
, the Member of Parliament for Copeland, the UK constituency which encompasses the Sellafield nuclear complex
. That he was a proponent for the nuclear industry was understandable given the dependency of his constituents on Sellafield, but through his occasional support for FoE-West Cumbria
there was a mutual respect. Jack has now departed for higher pastures, the House of Lords.
He was replaced in the 2005 General Election by Jamie Reed
who is surely loved by those same constituents (bar FoE-West Cumbria members). In his case, however, he seems to have started his parliamentary career as a possibly corrupt self serving hypocrite.
The following is from his maiden speech, carefully worded to ingratiate himself with his new boss, Tony Blair:Debates in the House about the nuclear industry, particularly the parts based in my constituency, have too often been characterised by wilful ignorance and knowing distortion of the facts. I will never stand idly by while hon. Members play politics with the livelihood of my constituents. For as long as I remain in the House, I hope to be able to contribute a factual voice of reason, not only in this but in many other debates in the years ahead.
There will soon come a time when my constituency will ask for its service to the nation be recognised and rewarded. When that time arrives, I will work to secure the support of the House to ensure that that voice is heard and the debt honoured.
With this speech Master Reed also ingratiated himself with his previous bosses - he had been the British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) press-officer for four years. During his time there he defended the company's radioactive discharges into the sea, and BNFL's "terrifying loopholes in security" at the Sellafield site exposed by the media just weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks in America. [Nucleonics Week, 2003, "Progress in Reducing Discharges under Debate at Ospar Meeting", 26 June, Vol 25, p12][P.McMullan (2001) "Our Reporter Exposes A Scandalous Lack Of Security Checks At The Nuclear Plant Classed As A Prime Target For Sabotage; Terror Risk At Sellafield", Sunday Express, 2 December, p17]
One wonders, too, how he is dealing with the latest news about those bits of dead workers and constituents kept at Sellafield that I first commented on here
, then here
. It has since been announced that those body parts had raised plutonium level
. This can only have come about from exposure to it, in plain English - radioactivity leaks.Research carried out on organs, including lungs, liver, spleen and bone marrow, removed during the autopsies of Sellafield workers and local people in Cumbria in the 1980s found higher levels of plutonium than in people from other parts of the country. The data also provided "strong circumstantial evidence" that local people were being affected by aerial discharges from the plant.
, incidentally, is a silvery, warm to touch isotope (radioactive element) which can only be produced by man, it does not occur naturally. It corrodes very quickly and is liable to sudden transitions.
There are strong arguments for there having been autopsies carried out on deceased members of the workforce at the nuclear facility. That these autopsies were carried out without the knowledge of the immediate families is to be condemned.Angela Christie's world collapsed when she was 13. Her mother was in hospital for a routine operation, and her father, Malcolm Pattinson, a tall, fit 36-year-old, who had worked with plutonium at Sellafield nuclear plant, fell ill and asked her to accompany her younger sister and brother to school.
That was in 1971, on Wednesday, May 26. The next day Malcolm was taken to West Cumberland hospital. By Friday he was dead. But it was not until a fortnight ago that Mrs Christie, now 49 and a mother of three children, discovered what had happened next.
It seems that BNFL, operators of Sellafield where Mrs. Christie works, are better at controlling leaks of information than they are at controlling leaks of radioactivity.
And the significance for Indonesia?
Can you answer these questions?
1. How many nuclear reactors are there in Indonesia?
2. Where are they?
3. What happens to their spent fuel?
4. How many leaks of radioactivity have there been?
The answers, if I can find them, will be in Take a Leak - 3.