Abuse of a Nation – Westminster Politicians Gave no Thought for the Safety of Scots – When They Installed and Operated – Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactors at Dounreay – And I am Accused of Being a Bell-end For Alerting You All



Freedom of Information

For many years concerned Scots were denied information about the safety of nuclear-generated energy by successive Westminster governments on the grounds of national security.

Despite delaying tactics by the Labour-led Scottish Executive, the Freedom of Information Act of 2005 forced politicians to provide information opening files previously hidden away.

Information in this blog was released after many months of circuitous correspondence and although revealing it is not comprehensive. Other information will no doubt be released over time.

But what is listed is a damming indictment on successive Westminster government abuse of Scotland and Scots further reinforcing the urgent need to for Scotland to break free from 300 plus years of tyrannical rule from Westminster actively assisted by Little Unionist Englanders residing in Scotland



1955 -1960 – Technology unproven – Fast breeder reactors were installed at Dounreay despite real fears of a nuclear blast

Fast-breeder reactors were conceived in the Fifties when uranium – the nuclear industry’s raw material – was scarce.

At the same time, the US was being uncooperative in sharing nuclear expertise, despite Britain’s role in developing the atom bomb.

So UK nuclear chiefs set up a fast breeder programme to ensure fuel independence and stationed it in remote Caithness, Scotland – because they feared their first test reactor might explode.

They even encased it in a giant sphere of steel, known as Fred the Golf Ball – Fred standing for Fast Reactor Experiment in Dounreay – to contain any blast. At least that is what the Scottish public was told

Daydreaming government officials also conjectured that it could be converted into a visitor centre after closure.

Unfortunately, the sphere contains about 50 tonnes of highly radioactive liquid metal coolant that will take many decades and a lot of cleaning before people can walk inside.

In the end, Dounreay was doomed to close early because uranium was discovered in significant quantities in Australia and Canada, making standard reactors cheaper to run.


57 Dounreay Scotland Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty ...


Three reactors were installed between 1958 and 1975.

Reactor No1: was a test unit operating from 1958-1969. It was never connected to the national grid and produced nothing. Work was transferred to Harwell in 1969

Reactor No2: was operational from 1962-1977. Its output was around 14 M.W.E.

Reactor No3: was operational from 1975-1994. Its output was around 250 M.W.E.

In 1994, the government ordered closure along with a full-scale clean-up.

Projections are fluid but completion of decommissioning is expected to take around 50 years.

The shut down of the reactor’s care and maintenance of old plant and decommissioning activities means that Dounreay still retains a work-force.

Commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and waste was stopped by the UK government in 1998 although some waste is still accepted from other nuclear facilities in special circumstances.



01 Apr 2005: Safety ‘failures’ at the closed nuclear plant facility at Dounreay between 1999-2005

There have been more than 250 violations of safety conditions at Dounreay since 1999, including leaking waste tanks, lost radioactive waste, and power cuts.

Some records of discharges have been wrong for months and many of the problems listed have never been reported before.

They include the radioactive contamination of whelks, winkles, rabbits, concrete, soil, water, air, and beaches.

The list includes 18 incidents in the first 3 months of 2005, including an “abnormal” radioactive discharge from a stack, the contamination of grass with caesium 137, and a spill of radioactive caustic soda.



01 Apr 2005: Protection agency – nuclear Dounreay chiefs played down major blast at the plant

An explosion in Dounreay’s waste shaft, one of the most serious incidents in the site’s turbulent history, was dismissed as a “minor incident” by senior staff.

A press release issued on the day of the blast in 1977, explained that a chemical reaction, probably involving 2.5kg of sodium had occurred adding “No injury occurred, the damage was minor and the public was not involved.”

It has now been revealed that the explosion caused extensive damage with pieces of asbestos discovered up to 75 metres away.



01 Apr 2005: Decommissioning of Dounreay is planned to bring the site to interim care and surveillance state by 2036, and as a brownfield site costing many £billions

Apart from decommissioning the reactors, reprocessing plant, and associated facilities, there are five main environmental issues to be dealt with:

1. A 65-metre deep shaft used for intermediate level nuclear waste disposal is contaminating groundwater and is also threatened by coastal erosion.

The shaft was never designed as a waste depository but was used as such on a very ad-hoc and poorly monitored basis, without reliable waste disposal records being kept.

In origin, it is a relic of a process by which a waste-discharge pipe was constructed. The pipe was designed to discharge waste into the sea.

Historic use of the shaft as a waste depository resulted in one hydrogen gas explosion caused by sodium and potassium wastes reacting with water.

At one time it was normal for workers to fire rifles into the shaft to sink polythene bags floating on water.

2. Irradiated nuclear fuel particles on the seabed near the plant are estimated to be many hundreds of thousands in number.

Beaches in the vicinity were closed to the public in 1983 due to this danger, caused by old fuel rod fragments being pumped into the sea.

It is planned that from 2008, a clean-up project using Geiger counter-fitted robot submarines will search out and retrieve particles, a process that will take many years.

In 2009 nearly 130 radioactive particles washed ashore on the publicly accessible Sandside Bay beach and one at a popular tourist beach at Dunnet.

3. 18,000 cubic metres of radiologically contaminated land, and 28,000 cubic metres of chemically contaminated land will need to be cleared of contamination, a process scheduled to take many decades to complete. If ever.

4. 1,350 cubic metres of high and medium active liquors and 2,550 cubic metres of unconditioned intermediate-level nuclear waste in-store will need to be transferred to another site for long term storage.

5. 1,500 tonnes of sodium, (900 tonnes of this unproductive Prototype Fast Reactor) will need to be transferred to another site for long term storage.



Historically much of Dounreay’s nuclear waste management was poor.

On 18 September 2006, the acting chief operating officer, predicted that more problems will be encountered from old practices at the site as the decommissioning effort continues.

At the start of decommissioning some parts of the plant will be entered for the first time in 50 years and no-one fully knows what to expect.

In 2007 UKAEA pleaded guilty to four charges under the Radioactive Substances Act 1960 relating to activities between 1963 and 1984, one of disposing of radioactive waste at a landfill site at the plant between 1963 and 1975, and three of allowing nuclear fuel particles to be released into the sea, resulting in puerile financial penalties fines.

Due to the quantities of uranium and plutonium held at the site, it is considered a major security risk and there is a high police presence.



Major safety flaws uncovered at Torness plant.

An accident at Torness nuclear power station in 2002 described at the time by British Energy as “vibration problems” was far more serious according to the official investigation.

The accident began when reactor two automatically shut down because it detected a flaw in its cooling system.

Operators made a serious mistake and a gas circulator meant to keep the reactor cool was badly damaged.

Alarms sounded, a temperature gauge went “off-scale” and 750 litres of oil went missing.

A report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, released under the FOI Act, criticized managers at Torness for staff cutbacks, and for failing to give safety a high enough priority.      (The Sunday Times)



Nuclear radioactive waste at Royals’ beach

Radioactive deposits washed up on Dunnet beach near the late Queen Mother’s former Scottish home were not reported by the management of the decommissioned Dounreay reactor, according to a response to an FOI request.

The findings prompted the Energy minister to admit that safety standards at Dounreay had been unacceptable and measures taken to protect the environment had been ineffective.  (The Guardian)



UK Atomic Energy Authority- Nuclear Power

British Energy’s decision to close its Peel Park headquarters in East Kilbride triggered a severe staffing crisis that could have put safety at risk, according to documents disclosed under the FOI (Scotland) Act.

A report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in December 2004 concluded “British Energy’s intent to close Peel Park, and the consequential impact, has had an adverse effect on the staff with respect to stress, morale and uncertainty over their future”. (Sunday Herald)



Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

Nuclear waste sites list revealed a list of sites across the UK considered for the dumping of nuclear waste has been disclosed under the FOI Act.

Nirex, the government-owned company set up to implement a nuclear waste disposal strategy, published the information on its website following an FOI request.

The short-list includes two sites in Essex and five in Scotland.







First Labour Coalition Executive Filled Their Pockets at the Expense of the Scottish Electorate – Memories Fade But Scots Do Not Forget






Scottish Executive costs hit £150m

The Scottish Executive has spent almost £150 million on travel, hospitality and office costs in the 6 years since devolution.

The figures, show that nearly £34m has been spent by ministers, special advisers and civil servants on travel, and more than £3m on hospitality since 1999.

The cost of office accommodation including utility costs, rates, maintenance and repairs was more than £111m. 16.9.05 Evening News Edinburgh





Scottish Executive Expenses

MSPs run up £500,000 bill on hotels since devolution.

Figures obtained reveal that MSPs have claimed £500,000 in hotel expenses since devolution.

The figures also reveal the amount claimed for taxis (£193,865), rail fares (£359,276) and telephone calls from home (£187,149).  24.4.05 The Sunday Times





Scottish Parliament Expenses – MSPs claim nearly £52k in taxis.

The amount MSPs spend on taxis has doubled since the first year of the Scottish Parliament figures reveal.

Last year, MSPs claimed £51,716.97 to cover their taxi fares, compared to £25,514.38 in 1999.

Tory leader David McLetchie has racked up the largest bill, claiming £11,565.19 over the six years, an average of nearly £2,000 a year. 30.9.05 The Scotsman




Scottish Parliament Expenses – McLetchie finally quits over taxi row

David McLetchie has resigned as the Scottish Conservative Party leader following the controversy over his taxi expenses.

McLetchie had been under pressure since February 2005 when details of his travel claims were requested under the FOI (Scotland) Act.

On 21 April, the Scottish Parliament provided copies of claims totalling £10,448 but blacked out many of the destinations, claiming Mr McLetchie’s safety would be compromised.

But on 7 October the Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion ordered the destinations to be disclosed.

It then emerged that Mr McLetchie had already paid refunded over £250 in travel claims for party political events.

He had also claimed for trips to the home of Lady Sian Biddulph, a Tory activist. 19.6.05 Scotland on Sunday





MSPs expense claims to be posted online

Invoices and receipts for all MSPs’ expenses claims will be published on the Internet in the future, George Reid, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer has announced.

Mr Reid said the current system of disclosing total figures annually was not adequate to meet the demands of the FOI (Scotland) Act.

The move to make expenses more open and accountable follows the resignation of the Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie for using taxpayers’ money to fund taxi journeys for personal or party political business. 2.11.05 The Scotsman





Outrage over council’s taxi bill of £71,000

East Lothian Council spent £71,000 on taxis over the past financial year.

A spokesman for the council said that “not all councillors are drivers and…when public transport…(is) not available it is more economical and efficient to use taxis”. 13.6.05 Evening News Edinburgh




Agency chief Laird spent £260 on a taxi

The cost of Lord Laird’s official taxi journeys whilst chairman of the Ulster-Scots Agency have been disclosed.

The bills from 2000 and 2001 include fares of £240 and £260 for Belfast to Dublin return trips and £272.50 for a Co Derry journey.

In total, £2,505 was spent over a 10 month period.

The peer defended some of his taxi use on personal security grounds, linked to his practice of wearing a kilt for functions.

“Am I going to turn up somewhere, get out of a car and walk half a mile to a function wearing a kilt? That would be drawing attention to me,” he said.

Lord Laird resigned as Ulster – Scots Agency chairman in 2004. 7.2.05 Belfast Telegraph




Labour Councillor who ate for free in canteen to pay money back

A Glasgow councillor who claimed expenses for lunches despite eating for free in the council’s canteen, has agreed to pay the money back.

Council records show that Gary Gray had lunch in a special City Chambers’ buffet on at least seven occasions when he also claimed a lunch allowance of £6.99.

The discrepancies were revealed when the Mr Gray’s expense forms were cross – referenced with records showing the number of times he had entertained visitors in the councillors’ buffet. 29.8.05 Evening Times Edinburgh





Ulster-Scots Agency cash rap revealed

The scale of past cash control failings at the Ulster – Scots Agency has been revealed.

A 2001 internal audit concluded that the cross – border body had been spending “with no apparent regard to the fact that public monies are involved”.

It stated that government investigators were seriously concerned about a number of issues, including hospitality spending, credit card use and travel expenses.

The Agency was established in late 1999 to promote Ulster-Scots language and culture. 10.3.05 Belfast Telegraph





Expenses – The strange tale of the huge expenses bill, the pension application and the disappearing MSP

Invoices for travel expenses claimed by the former MSP Keith Raffan have been disclosed.

In December 2004 the Scottish Parliament revealed the Lib Dem MSP had claimed an incredible £41,154.64 in travel costs for one year.

The released invoices show that he claimed for travel in Scotland whilst on a two day break on the Isle of Man.

He also claimed for round trips between Edinburgh and Dunfermline and between Edinburgh and St Andrews on the same day that he flew to Germany on a VIP trip. Raffan resigned as an MSP in January 2005. 18.9.05 The Sunday Herald





Jackson courts questions on travel expenses

A Labour MSP charged taxpayers for travel to the Scottish Parliament on the same days that he earned hundreds of pounds in legal aid as a top QC.

Gordon Jackson billed the Parliament for travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh on nine occasions when he’d been in court.

On two of those occasions, Jackson who earns £264,000 a year in legal aid plus a £50,000 MSP’s salary is recorded as having missed parliamentary committee meetings.

On a third occasion, the parliament was not in session, although Jackson claims he went to his parliamentary office, which would entitle him to claims expenses. 24.4.05 Scotland on Sunday





Revealed: the MSPs’ houses we paid for

Ten ministers in the Scottish Executive are among more than 40 MSPs who claim an allowance to help pay the mortgage on their Edinburgh homes.

MSPs who live too far from Edinburgh to commute are entitled to claim an accommodation allowance of up to £10,600 a year which they can use to pay for hotels, rent flats or pay the interest on a mortgage.

The Scottish Parliament published, in response to public pressure a list of politicians who have bought property with the allowance.

A total of 41 current MSPs and 7 former MSPs have claimed for mortgages since the scheme started in 1999. 4.6.05 Evening News Edinburgh





Scottish Parliament Expenses

Yes, minister, your lunch did cost £426. When Jack McConnell met Gavin McCrone and officials for dinner during his time as education minister in 2000, the Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh presented him with a bill for £426.60.

Meanwhile, the communities minister Margaret Curran last year lodged expenses for £285 for a meal at the Glasgow Hilton.

However, when the then First Minister, Henry McLeish, met Cardinal Thomas Winning, the then head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, for lunch at the Bonham Hotel in 2000, he registered expenses for a very reasonable £25.50.    30.3.05 The Scotsman