Sellafield a massive drain on Cumbria’s water supplies

Date: Friday 14th September 2018

Sir, The rain returned several weeks ago and our gardens and fields have returned to their usual shades of green. However, United Utilities still finds it necessary to take full-page newspaper advertisements urging us all “to use a little less water”, to spend less time in the shower, to turn off the tap when brushing our teeth, etc.

These are, of course, in themselves laudable actions, but it also seems reasonable to ask where all the water has gone, and, subsequently, to speculate that a big part of the answer lies in the enormous quantities of water being extracted from Cumbria’s rivers and lakes to cool and service the many serious hazards that remain at the Sellafield nuclear site, including Building 30, which George Beveridge, Sellafield’s deputy managing director, in 2009 described as “the most hazardous industrial building in western Europe”.

Thanks to the efforts of Radiation Free Lakeland and its recent freedom of information requests, we know that as long ago as 1993 the National Rivers Authority reported that Sellafield used 97 million litres of fresh water (25 million gallons) a day, and that by 2014, according to Sellafield Ltd’s own “water demand study”, its abstraction of water amounted to a staggering 863 cubic metres per hour.

As we spend less time in the shower and turn off our taps, we would do well to remember just how much of our water is, meanwhile, being taken to dampen down the dangerous legacy of Windscale and its successors.

It is sadly much too late to undo the past mistakes at Sellafield, but the lesson is very clear. We need no more nuclear power stations and we need no nuclear dump. Yours etc,

PHILIP GILLIGAN

(Cumbria and Lancashire Campaignfor Nuclear Disarmament)

Storth, Milnthorpe.