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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 October 2007

Windscale 1957

FIFTY YEARS ago on 10 October 1957, Windscale nuclear plant in Cumbria, since renamed Sellafield, suffered a serious fire. This week, a BBC documentary showed how the 1950s Macmillan government was in a rush to build an 'independent' British hydrogen bomb and maintain prestige on the world stage. They used Windscale to develop the plutonium and tritium they needed for the bomb.

This very hurried process overlooked the fears of scientists and led to a dangerous overheating of the core's graphite rods. The core burst into flames. The government and its cover-up report scandalously tried to blame the staff at Windscale who had fought heroically to put out the fire.

50 years later, new scientific studies of the fire's radioactive debris and of weather patterns suggest that the plume of caesium, iodine and polonium that moved across the area may have triggered several dozens more cases of cancer than the 200 previously estimated.

New Labour is now going ahead with plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations that could be devastating to the environment.

No safe method of disposing of nuclear waste, that could last and contaminate for over 100,000 years, is known to science. And Windscale half a century ago is a reminder that nuclear accidents can happen with disastrous consequences.

Roger Shrives

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In The Socialist 11 October 2007:

Unity with the postal workers

Gloucestershire shows determination

Marching in support of the Burslem 12

Anger at Leighton, Crozier and Brown

Picket line round-up

Determination to continue the battle


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Private hands off our NHS!


What we think

Brown's expedient election climb-down


War and terrorism

Anti-war movement upholds right to protest

Burmese students join London march


Socialism 2007

Socialism 2007: Debates to sharpen your socialism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Windscale 1957

Super-rich super-donators

Any spare cash?

Beat back the profiteers

Cuts kill - no reductions in the fire service!


Socialist Party feature

1917 October Revolution: the working class took power


International socialist news and analysis

Darfur bloodshed fuelled by land and oil grab

Iraq occupation: Brown's token gesture


Workplace news and analysis

Civil servants march against cuts and privatisation

Bolton care workers fight on

National Shop Stewards Network holds meetings around the country


 

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