Windscale: A nuclear disaster
A fire ripped through the radioactive materials in the core of Windscale, Britain's first nuclear reactor.
Tom Tuohy, the deputy general manager at the site, led the team faced with dealing with a nightmare no-one had thought possible.
"Mankind had never faced a situation like this; there's no-one to give you any advice," he said.
Tuohy and his men were confronted by a terrifying dilemma.
If they let the fire burn out, it could spread radioactivity over a large area of Britain. But if they put water on the reactor, they risked turning it into a nuclear bomb that could kill them all.
"I phoned the general manager," Tuohy recalled, "and said, 'look, I want to turn on the water'.
"I thought if it goes up, we will all go with it," remembers Margaret Davis, whose husband Eddie was also engaged in the emergency operation. "I've never been so frightened in my whole life."
The full article can be read here: Windscale: A nuclear disaster
Other Non-BBC Resource
Read about the UKAEA Decommissioning programme here: The Windscale Pile Reactors (opens as a PDF).
Read a report on the background to the fire at Wikipedia : Windscale fire (read with caution as always).
Read offical report on the Windscale Pile 1 Fire (UKAEA, 1989): Windscale fire (opens as a PDF, 6MB).
Read a great review of the piles and incident by Richard Wakeford, Editor-in-Chief of the JRP: The Windscale reactor accident—50 years on (opens as a PDF, 6MB).