Tuesday 12 December 2023

Claims of radioactive stray cats living around UK nuclear power station

NEWS AND COMMENT: There has been a claim by anti-nuclear power campaigners that stray cats living in and around the Sellafield power station in Cumbria, UK, have become radioactive and are literally "pooing plutonium". They are a a hazard to locals they claim.

Sellafield. Image credit: see base of article.

It's further claimed that the cats have been fed scraps of food by workers at Sellafield and perhaps become radioactive because they have been sheltering under giant steam pipes for warmth for decades. There have also been radioactive leaks. I believe that Sellafield is no longer functional as a power station and is being decommissioned.

The campaign group is called Radiation Free Lakeland. And they claim that experts have confirmed that the cats' faeces contain small amounts of plutonium and caesium which are nonetheless detectable.

The Sellafield managers/administration deny the claims and say that the cats pose no risk to the public.

In an interesting development, however, the Mail Online website states that they've seen some documents which prove that some of Sellafield's 11,000 employees have been threatened with disciplinary action if they feed the cats. 

It appears that there really are cats there and they are being fed and the management is frightened that they'll end up congregating around the offices which, I will presume, could jeopardise the employees. That appears to be the thinking behind the management's directive that they stop feeling cats.

It appears that Sellafield has a reputation for being dangerous. For example, The Guardian newspaper reported that in 2019 there was a leak from the nuclear power station from the storage unit and the leak worsened over two years. It reports that 2.3-2.5 m³ of radioactive "liquor" had been leaking from the facility every day.

Moving much nearer to the present, seven days ago, the Irish Times reports that a leak at the site could have "potentially significant consequences". They are reporting on an earlier Guardian report.

It states that there are concerns about the safety of the crumbling building as well as cracks in a reservoir of toxic sludge known as B30. Apparently there is a leak from a huge silo of radioactive waste which can pose a serious risk to the public. There are cracks which have developed in the concrete and the skin covering a huge pond containing decades of nuclear sludge.

Okay, there are problems with Sellafield and they do have stray and feral cats on the site it appears. Therefore, it is not entirely implausible that the cats might become radioactive but survive nonetheless.

I can recall many animals reportedly living around the Chernobyl site which as you know has been shut down for decades since the explosion. The animals have survived despite becoming radioactive. The point I'm making is that animals have become radioactive and survived and live at the Chernobyl site. Clearly the level of radioactivity is not sufficient to kill them but sufficient to allow them to present as a radioactive animal.

But are they a threat to humans? I think not even when close to humans.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Image credit: By Simon Ledingham, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7938296

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