Trawsfynydd power station – nuclear weapon?

Constructed in 1928 the Llyn Traswfynydd is a 1200 acre man made reservoir set in the picturesque Snowdonia National park near the village of Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, North Wales.

The reservoir waters were initially created as the header reservoir for the Maentwrog hydro-electric power station then they were used as the cooling water for the Trawsfynydd nuclear power station which generated electricity for the National Grid. The reservoir also acted as a sink for radioactivity released from the plant.

Traswfynydd is the only inland nuclear power station to have been built in the UK and it ceased output in 1993, however an academic paper written by an environmental scientist has found that it may be responsible for elevated levels of cancer found in the communities nearby the reactors.

The winds at the power station site are south westerly and after surveying more than 90% of the people living downwind Dr Chris Busby showed that incidences of breast cancer were five times higher than would have been expected.

The papers were published by Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine and state: “Trawsfynydd is a ‘dirty’ nuclear power station. As it has carbon dioxide, gas-cooled graphite block reactors its releases to air are higher than most other types of nuclear reactor.

“In addition, all the liquid releases are discharged to the lake, where they have accumulated to the lake body sediment.

“Results show very clearly that the downwind population has suffered because of these exposures. This is most clear in breast cancer in the younger women below 60, where the rates were almost five times the expected…

“Additionally we see a doubling of risk in those who ate fish from Trawsfynydd Lake, which supports the conclusion that it is mainly a nuclear power station effect that is being seen.

“Other forms of cancer showing elevated levels included prostate, leukaemia, mesothelioma and pancreas. Altogether, 38 people in the area researched were diagnosed with cancer between 2003 and 2005, against an “expected” level of 19.5.”1

What is also worrying is that the nuclear power station has not yet been fully decommissioned or cleaned up and a significant amount of radioactive material remain in the lake bed sediment. A quick search on a well-known website shows that there are a lot of activities available on, in and around the lake including water sports and fishing where you can take the fish home.

Public Health Wales are currently liaising with local teams who cover Traswfynydd to find out if any cancer clusters have been identified in the area.

It remains to be seen what their findings are, however the results from the researched academic papers are very worrying especially as the government plans to build new nuclear power stations to replace coal. The government’s new Energy Secretary Amber Rudd believes that new major infrastructure projects should be aesthetically pleasing and if nuclear power stations weren’t such ugly buildings there would be less opposition and objections from local communities.

I wouldn’t worry about how ugly or pretty the buildings are. I would worry more about the potentially radioactive cancer causing chemicals permeating the area surrounding the nuclear power stations affecting our family’s health.

References

1 http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-nuclear-power-station-responsible-9415019

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