A nuclear cocktail and the bombs of Beaufort Dyke

I touched the other day in a post on the dumping of nuclear waste via the Sellafield outfall pipe as part of the discharges that went on in a fairly unregulated manner for the first twenty five years after Windscale (Sellafield) was opened. Indeed most scandalously discharges in the fifties were increased to ‘measure there impact’ in what has been termed by us ‘the Island experiment’. A scientist at Sellafield John Dunster admitted as much openly at a seminar in the 1950s but this prompted no official concern or protest for the Irish or Manx governments of the day.

Dunster who was later to paradoxically go on to head the UK Radiological Protection Body was never confronted about this episode that used the coastal communities around the North Irish Sea as guinea pigs.

However it was not just Sellafield. For years after it was revealed that the UK had used sea dumps such as the North Channel (Beaufort Dyke) and the Holyhead Deep for the disposal of explosives and chemical munitions.

The fiction was maintained that nuclear material had not been disposed in these coastal sites and that – bad as it still was – all UK nuclear waste had been dumped several hundred miles of the S E Coast of Ireland.

However in 1997 Jeff Rooker a UK government Minister confirmed that Beaufort Dyke had been used for the disposal of nuclear waste in drums. Earlier the UK had suggested they were simply testing drum release mechanisms but this was not the case. It turned out that radioactive contaminated ‘building material’ had been disposed as early as the 1950s. No source is given for this but its possibly detritus from the Windscale Fire which at that time and until Chernobyl was the most serious civil nuclear incident on the planet.

Rooker also confirmed in 1997 that radioactively contaminated luminous aircraft ‘miss distance indicators’ had been disposed off in the Holyhead Deep off Anglesey. Rooker insisted this was a small quantity however later it was admitted that tens of thousands had been dumped in another coastal dump off the Clyde. In addition the UK dispose of this type of material to landfill and it was still trying to stop access to information on this as recently as 2014. Dalgety beach in Scotland is one area which is now subject to a clean up.

Of course the bulk of the one million tonnes of material that went into the Beaufort Dyke from 1922 until 1983 was conventional munitions but there were also phosphorus bases devices and mustard gas bombs (Yperite) in addition to small quantities of both Sarin and Tabun nerve gas bombs destined for deep water Atlantic disposal but diverted to the dump just 12 miles N W of the Isle of Man ‘because of bad weather’!

You can find more information on the Beaufort Dyke sea dump on the original Celtic League internet archive file (link below). Its a 450 page pdy file but easily searched just hit ctrl F and type in ‘Beaufort Dyke’ or ‘Nuclear Waste’:

https://www.celticleague.net/…/Celtic_League_News_Archive.p…

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary
Celtic League

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