Nuclear waste will help your greens grow, claims BNFL
Sunday 20 June 1999
BNFL, Britain's most controversial nuclear company, says using the waste as compost is a highly effective , and "green", way of getting rid of it.
This low-tech discovery will amuse anti-nuclear activists because it means their bitterest enemy has made use of their oldest campaigning symbol. The sunflower has been used by opponents of nuclear power for decades - it is the trade mark of Green parties across Europe.
Scientists at BNFL now claim spinach and sunflowers are "pleasurable, green and cost- effective tools" for cleaning contaminated land.
The scientists turned to horticulture because they needed to find a better and cheaper way of dealing with radio-active soil than digging it up and carting it to its one nuclear waste site at Drigg, near Sellafield. They reasoned that as plants lived by "mining the soil for nutrients" they could also be used "to take up and sequester contaminants from the ground". They grew four kinds of plants - spinach, perpetual spinach, Indian mustard and the sunflowers - on land contaminated 30 years ago by waste from a burst pipe in BNFL's nuclear power station at Bradwell, Essex.
After eight weeks they cut and dried the plants and found the sun flowers and perpetual spinach had taken up large amounts of the radioactive contaminant caesium 137 from the soil. They say "repeated planting and harvesting" should "enable the gradual removal" of the radioactivity. They do not say what they do with the "hot" sunflowers. Sunflowers were first used as an anti-nuclear symbol by a German environmentalist, Rowland Vogt, because they follow the sun. Sarah Parkin, a former leader of the British Green Party, a historian of green politics worldwide, says the flower was taken up as a "positive affirmation of the true source of energy, the sun".
She adds: "It is nice to see BNFL taking up green symbolism. But it would be better if they took up the philosophy and did not produce the nuclear waste in the first place."
The perpetual spinach took up waste more thoroughly than the sunflower. So it could be used to take up nuclear radiation from the sites of accidents such as Chernobyl, though even Popeye would not advise bringing the resulting fodder to the dinner table.
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Khorasan: Muhsin al-Fadhli - the man leading a terror group more feared by US officials than Isis
'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
Alicia Keys leaks own nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client in the Financial...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 6 Teachers urgently needed for su...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Year 3/4 Teacher Needed in Flintshire ...