As we discussed yesterday, Vermont Yankee is a nuclear reactor with so many dangerous fault, defects and problems that if it was a house or a school it would have been condemned and demolished years ago. We just seem to be far more tolerant when it comes to problems with our nuclear reactors - Vermont Yankee isn’t alone in its pathetic decrepitude.

Take the two reactors at Calvert Cliffs which were shut down unexpectedly last week when ‘melting snow leaking through the plant’s roof’ and ‘trickled down onto an electrical breaker’. It really was that simple. To think we worry about terrorists storming nuclear reactors or flying jets into them. A reasonably determined al Qaeda operative could bring the nuclear energy sector to its knees with a ladder and a bucket of icy water.

***

Meanwhile at Hanford, America’s nuclear complex in the state of Washington and one of the most hellishly radioactive places on the planet, work to dig up waste contaminated with plutonium has had to be stopped

Problems related to the incidents included hazards not being adequately identified and responsibilities of workers not matching their training or qualifications, said Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board staff in a weekly report just released. "Worker and management responses demonstrated a failure to implement lessons learned" from previous problems encountered by other Hanford contractors, the safety board report said.

A failure to implement lessons learned? What is it with the nuclear industry and its stubborn refusal to learn lessons or implement them? Imagine if you had a child like that – that kept reaching out for pans of boiling water in the kitchen despite being told not to over and over again, that kept trying to drink bleach – you’d being looking for some kind of therapist. The nuclear industry, may we remind you, is 60 years old. It really does fly against the theory of natural selection. Species of animal that behave like that tend to become extinct very quickly.

***

The radioactive seagulls are back at Sellafield. In truth they’ve never been away but it seems that the owners of the nuclear plant in the north west of England (another of the most hellishly radioactive places on the planet) have decided it’s time for another cull.

You see, the birds swim in the water of the outdoor nuclear waste storage pools, become contaminated and then take flight to bomb the surrounding area with radioactive poop. So Sellafield hires a sharpshooter who bags the birds whose carcasses – which are classed as nuclear waste - are stored in a big freezer on the site for safe keeping. Apparently there are 350 ‘mostly birds but also some small mammals’ in the freezer. (It’s good to know the number – the Sellafield Freedom of Information people didn’t want to tell us when we asked last year.)

Now, you’re probably asking yourself: ‘Why do they store nuclear waste in pools in the open air so birds can get in, get contaminated and then bomb the surrounding area with radioactive poop? Isn’t some kind of net or cover in order?’ To which we’d reply: 'Be fair. They’ve only been shooting at the birds for twelve years or so. We could blame Sellafield’s owners but it’s clearly a failure to implement lessons learned by the seagulls.'

Have a good weekend.