Not only did about 10 tons of molten radioactive fuel remain in the reactor after the accident.
But a huge amount of radioactive substances were also released into the air, including the dangerous iodine-131 that the human body stores in the thyroid gland, which can cause cancer.
These radioactive clouds moved over the whole of Europe for several days.
However, no one ordered the evacuation of the surroundings during the accident and what was possible was covered up, mainly so that the accident would not endanger the atomic program.
The only more drastic measure the authorities took was to order the disposal of cows’ milk within a radius of 500 square kilometers.
As a later investigation showed, at least 100 people lost their lives in connection with the crash, and probably doubled.
Were it not for Cockroft’s filtration, this number would have been much higher.
On October 10, 1957, a fire broke out at the Windscale Nuclear Facility on the west coast of Great Britain, releasing huge amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere.
To this day, it is Britain’s worst nuclear disaster, but the authorities of the time kept the danger a secret and did not even bother to evacuate the inhabitants from the surrounding area.
The details of the crash, and what caused it, did not come to light until many years later…