Windscale Accident

Having written a play about Chernobyl (Wormwood, produced at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh) I've been following recent radio and TV programmes which have been marking the 50th anniversary of the terrible accident at Windscale (now renamed Sellafield) with some interest. I was a very young child when all this happened, and knew next to nothing about it, although it occurs to me now, that my late father, a scientist, must have been well aware of it, and this was perhaps why - although he worked with radio isotopes for much of his (somewhat foreshortened) life - he still had a healthy scepticism about the nuclear industry and would ask searching and awkward questions about hidden costs, whenever he chanced to be at one of those 'ain't nuclear power grand' presentations.
What struck me most about last night's excellent BBC documentary about the accident (apart from the utterly superb and scurrilous last line, of course) was the way the scientists had been well and truly stitched up by the politicians of the time - and the press had more or less swallowed the whole lying story. That, and the fact that as the surrounding countryside was being showered with radioactive elements which included deadly-beyond-belief Polonium, the residents of nearby Seascale were treated like mushrooms, ie kept in the dark and fed shit. People only removed themselves and their children when workers at the plant managed to get messages home. There was no planned evacuation.
The news at the time was a cover-up that the soviets would have been proud of.
All of which leads me to wonder why so many politicians are now astonished to find that the media savvy population at large don't ever really believe a word they say. Particularly when that word is intended to reassure and prevent panic. Or as they say in Scots, the only language where a double positive can mean completely the opposite - 'aye, right!'

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