Today on Far Future Horizons we present a BBC documentary that reveals how political ambition fuelled the Windscale fire of 1957 and then dictated that the heroes of Windscale be made the scapegoats.
On the night of October 10th, 1957, Britain was on the brink of an unprecedented nuclear tragedy. A fire ripped through the radioactive materials in the core of Windscale, Britain's first nuclear reactor. Tom Tuohy, the deputy general manager at the site, led the team faced with dealing with a nightmare no-one had thought possible.
"Mankind had never faced a situation like this; there's no-one to give you any advice," he said. Tuohy and his men were confronted by a terrifying dilemma.
If they let the fire burn out, it could spread radioactivity over a large area of Britain. But if they put water on the reactor, they risked turning it into a nuclear bomb that could kill them all.
Now tapes of the inquiry into the accident, heard for the first time in a BBC film, reveal the reasons why the politicians covered up the causes of the accident. Scientists had been warning about the dangers of an accident for some time. The safety margins of the radioactive materials inside the reactor were being further and further eroded.Windscale Britain's Biggest Nuclear Disaster