Let me paint you a lovely picture, not one with pretty clouds and lovely bushes, not one with a romantic and silly national pride imagery, not one of haystacks viewed through the impressions of the artist, the picture I paint is one of the last gasps of imperialism of a dying empire and the early whispers of the Cold War.
It’s a picture of unrelenting stubbornness and sheer bleeding national pride, a picture propelled into being by the American cutting off their British allies from that sweet pipeline of nuclear mysteries, a picture of rapid and unrelenting development of plutonium manufacturing capabilities, barreling through all opposition, all logic and all problems.
In 1949 the American closed the door completely and totally on all nuclear cooperation, for some awful nationalistic nonsense reason, or possibly because the UK was full of Soviet infiltrators and their entire administration was leaking like a fucking sieve.
Either way, this meant that the British had to go and build their very own plutonium manufacturing nuclear pile, without all the experimentation the Americans had done in their own nuclear madness, the British only knew a few bits and pieces and for some reason decided to go with an air-cooled Nuclear Reactor.
I’ll give you a few seconds to get that one through you thick old sculls, a Nuclear Reactor with the same cooling system as a standard laptop, the difference being a simply matter of scale, now I’m no nuclear physicist, but this doesn’t seem that particular safe, letting open free air just flow past your active fissile core of radioactive delight.
The reason for this apparent madness, was obvious one of convenience and speed, they British Empire needed it’s precious nukes at any cost necessary, sanity be damned, unfortunate that this probably resulted in the release of small amounts of radioactive material over the years.
Then there was the location, the British government in its usual way of utter madness, went with a location right next to a failing vacation spot alongside the coast, in an area whose agricultural sector was dedicated to the dairy production, milk being especially susceptible to Iodine pollution, Iodine-131 being something of a villainous isotope, that will be important very, very soon.
Basically, this whole Air-cooled monstrosity was designed to Enrich Uranium from the harmless variations into for example, mother Plutonium, this is basically done inside the reactor, through manipulation of the neutron exposure.
This pile, caught on fire and that’s why the Windscale Fire is a a Level Five on the International Nuclear Event Scale, there’s just seven levels in total. Around 200 people died because of the fire, a fire caused by the damn thing being basically a giant pile of Uranium, graphite and a bit of boron, about as safe as Chemical factory in Texas, cooled by fucking air.
Still, the British got their nuclear bomb and a 100 billion £ sterling cleanup of what is now called Sellafield, hey, jobs for ten thousand people, and it’s not like anyone wants to live along the English coastline anyways.