Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility

Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant

Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant

The Sellafield nuclear complex is situated on the coast of Cumbria in northwest Britain. Originally named Windscale with the purpose of producing plutonium for the British nuclear weapons program, it then became a commercial operation with reprocessing facilities, fuel fabrication and other installations, operated by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL). In 2005 ownership switched to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 

Sellafield has a track record of numerous incidents and accidents involving the release of radioactive substances into the environment as well as the routine discharges from reprocessing and other activities.

The Sellafield site has the highest concentration of radioactivity on the planet. A major accident involving the liquid high level waste tanks could have catastrophic consequences and make the area uninhabitable for a long time. 

The reprocessing plants discharge some nuclear waste into the sea each day. The radioactivity contaminates seawater, sediments and marine life such as winkles and lobsters. The Irish Sea is arguably the most radioactively contaminated sea in the world. 

In the vicinity of the complex, groundwater, estuaries and soil are contaminated. Compared to the British average, there has been a ten-fold increase of childhood leukaemia around Sellafield. Plutonium dust has been found in the houses of residents living along the Irish Sea coast. 

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