Just 18 months before the infamous fire ripped through Windscale’s Pile No 1 on 10th October 1957, a little publicised and largely forgotten major accident in the neighbouring Pile No 2 saw workers fight desperately for over a week to save the reactor from total loss. The crisis, which resulted not from fire or major leak, was caused by the stress failure of a bracket fixed to the inner wall of the reactor’s biological shield where it supported vital scanning gear designed to sniff out any excess radiation from burst fuel cartridges within the Pile. Described in detail a year later by a series of articles in the Yorkshire Evening Post – much in the style of a boys’ own adventure story which captured the cavalier attitude typical of those days – the 15 x 6 inch bracket had been ripped from the wall and mysteriously appeared in the reactor’s discharge pond at the back of the Pile building along with used fuel cartridges. Dubbed as ‘The Thing’ by workers at the scene, the broken bracket, the cobbled together repair kit and the ‘writing off’ of workers who tackled the crisis were headlined by the Yorkshire newspaper.
CORE 1st Oct 2017 read more »