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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Clear-up at reactor 50 years on
Pile reactor
Part of the sealed off reactor to be decommissioned
A sealed off area of a Cumbrian nuclear reactor is to be cleaned up - 50 years after being ravaged by fire.

In October 1957, flames swept through a graphite cooler reactor at Windscale and a radioactive cloud was released.

The reactor, which was unsalvageable, was buried in concrete and the sale of milk from nearby farms was banned.

Part of the site was renamed Sellafield and five decades on the reactor will be decommissioned using pioneering technology over the next 20 years.

The fire burned for two days before it was brought under control and a second reactor on the site was also shut down and the site decontaminated.

When the site was renamed Sellafield new nuclear reactors were built.

Cost of 500m

Peter English has recently retired from Sellafield after working there for 50 years and recalls the day fire broke out.

He said: "We arrived for work as normal to the apprentice workshop and it was only then that we discovered something was wrong.

"The managers at the time told us to keep all the windows and doors shut and we were kept in the workshop the whole time."

Remote-controlled machines will lift out fuel and other contaminated material at a cost of 500m over the next two decades.

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