• August 21, 2015


BBC 4s well trailed documentary ‘Inside Sellafield’ told us nothing really new about the ghastly nuclear waste repository on the doorstep of several of the Celtic countries.

The programme touched on the amateurish way the whole operation was run at the outset and the cavalier way in which waste was handled but all this was information long in the public domain.

The presenter appeared so excited at being allowed inside the plant that the commentary was delivered in a style similar to that adopted by Michael Palin in his ‘Ripping Yarns’ comedy series.

The programme also touched on the Sellafield fire which spewed out contaminants across the North West and was undoubtedly a major pollution scandal but this was played down by focusing on the Cockcroft filters on the top of the stack at the fire site.

Indeed despite the filters there has been speculation since that the fire and subsequent pollution cloud caused hundreds of deaths (see link):


One thing the programme did not focus on was ‘the experiment’.

In 1958 John Dunster who worked at Sellafield admitted at a conference in Geneva that the British had deliberately increased discharges of pollution from Sellafield then Windscale to observe the impact he said:

“discharges (from Sellafield) have been deliberately maintained. . . high enough to obtain detectable levels in samples of fish, seaweed and shore sand, and the experiment is still proceeding. In 1956 the rate of discharge of radioactivity was deliberately increased, partly to dispose of unwanted wastes, but principally to yield better experimental data.”

See link:


Astonishingly Dunster’s admission seems to have gone virtually unnoticed at the time and although eventually scrutinised in the ‘Black Report’ this was eventually dubbed by many as a whitewash job on Britain’s dirty record at Sellafield.

Some politicians in the Celtic countries did speak out the Maughold MHK, Sir Charles Kerruish; later President of Tynwald did try to draw attention to the experiment.

Meanwhile in Ireland Charles Haughey TD called those responsible ‘criminals’ who should be in jailed (Proceedings of Dail Éireann 1984).

Meanwhile Dunster bizarrely went on to become the head of the National Radiological Protection Board and an ‘emeritus member’ of the International Commission of Radiological Protection. He was eulogised by the scientific community when he died in 2006.

It is not known how many people died or suffered illness as a result of the deliberate controlled discharge of radioactive pollution from Windscale (Sellafield) to ‘yield experimental data’.

Prepared for Celtic News by Bernard Moffatt.



The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues



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