Column 43 of the reaction media: Sellafield & Murray Walker documentation

This article first appeared on Response.

Sellafields Toxic Culture, BBC News Channel & iPlayer

This film is only eleven minutes long but tells a very worrying story. Sellafield should be the safest place in the country. It must be stated what is happening on its premises. It should be a work environment in which people not only feel safe from the toxic substances stored there, but are also able to work with colleagues in an atmosphere of mutual respect. This film shows that in several incidents of racism, misogyny, homophobia and workplace bullying, this is far from being. And all of this makes you think that if they are not in control of this, how can we be sure that they are taking care of the nuclear waste properly?

The evidence presented in this film shows that Sellafield’s management is flawed, at least in terms of staffing policy. Letters were leaked to the BBC and a dozen employees were interviewed with legitimate complaints about Sellafield’s approach to employees. Some details were terrible, especially tolerance of racial slurs. A Sellafield recruiter who was hired in 2017 explained many of the complaints. She described Sellafield as “a ticking time bomb over cultural issues and no one seems to be holding her accountable”. Her contract was terminated days after a critical report was filed with Sellafield’s HR department. She is now taking her to court for being released for “whistleblowing”. Sellafield denies the case.

The big problem here is that there are concerns that the culture at Sellafield is preventing employees from getting in touch if they have concerns about the operation of the facility. Think about it for a moment and think about the consequences. If you’ve watched the ‘Chernobyl’ series on Sky Atlantic you will fully understand the implications. A staff poll leaked to the BBC showed exactly how worrying this is, with a dramatic decrease in the number of staff saying they could come forward without fear of retaliation.

One employee said, ‚ÄúThere are two really dangerous elements at Sellafield. They have poisonous materials and a poisonous culture. You put the two together and you have a recipe for disaster. “


Murray Walker: A Life in the Fast Lane, iPlayer

The great thing about iPlayer is that it can revive programs from years gone by at any time. It was great to see the BBC show this wonderful program about Murray Walker’s long and fantastic life. And what a life. He was in Formula 1 what Richie Benaud was to cricket and Dan Maskell was to tennis. When he retired as the BBC’s main commentator for Forumla 1, the sport never seemed quite the same again. That is of course if you classify F1 as a sport … but let’s leave this debate for another place.

OK, maybe not. I’ve never really “understood” the appeal of a sport where it’s the cars that really determine who wins more than the driver’s skills. Of course, the driver plays a role, but not in the traditional role of the athlete, which is crucial to the victory of the team or its squad. If all the cars were the same it would be a lot more interesting and prove that the best driver had won. Nowadays it’s the best car that always wins. That’s where I got that out of my system.

This biodocumentation focuses on his decades as a commentator on all sorts of motorsports, not just Formula 1. However, we also learn about his war history and life in the advertising world during the years when commenting was only a part-time occupation was his daily work was.

Perhaps the most moving part of the program was the section on the death of Ayrton Senna. Walker had to comment on events live and he did it in the most sensitive way possible. It’s nothing to prepare for, and you are walking a tightrope knowing that a word out of place would be an absolute disaster.

This program was first shown in 2011, but was shown again on Tuesday that week, just three days after Murray died at the ripe old of 97. He was unique.

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