Nuclear Waste Dumped on Britain's Beaches
Published on Sunday, March 6, 2005 by Agence France Presse
Nuclear Waste Dumped on Britain's Beaches

LONDON - Highly radioactive waste has been dumped in Britain's seas and washed ashore, and nuclear research station workers covered up the pollution.

The Sunday Times reported that the owner of the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness, Scotland, faced a criminal prosecution over a series of leaks, which have sent more than 50 radioactive particles onto a nearby public beach.

Herbie Lyalls, a health physics surveyor at the plant from 1960 to 1989, gave the paper a dossier that describes high-level radioactive waste washed down drains intended for low-level waste, and later flushed out into the sea.

It also claimed that radioactive materials were handled inappropriately, and may have led to at least two deaths from cancer.

The Sunday Times said Lyalls had spoken out about the pollution despite facing prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

"There have been so many lies told to con the public about Dounreay that I feel I must put the record straight," said Lyall.

He said he was part of a survey team in 1984 that covered up health risks on a local beach where a highly radioactive particle was found.

Tourists continued to visit the beach for 13 years after that, until new concerns were raised.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority, which owns the plant, said safety standards were not as stringent previously as they are now.

Sandy McWhirter, a project manager at Dounreay, said he could not confirm Lyall's claims but added that the former surveyor "may not have been in a position to fully understand" proceedings there.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has admitted that "at least several hundreds of thousands" of particles of plutonium and uranium, about the size of a grain of sand, had been released from Dounreay, the paper said.

© Copyright 2005 AFP