Tom Tuohy

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Thomas Tuohy CBE (7 November 1917 – 12 March 2008) was deputy to the general manager at the Windscale nuclear facility when a major fire erupted on 10 October 1957. He was the leading participant in efforts to put out the fire which was emitting radioactive contamination into the air, and so played a key role in minimising Britain's worst nuclear disaster.[1][2]

Tuohy was born in Wallsend and educated at St Cuthbert's High School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Reading University.

During World War II he worked for the Royal Ordnance as a chemist, and in 1946 joined the nuclear industry, becoming deputy general manager of Windscale in 1957.

On 10 October 1957 his boss phoned him at home where he was nursing a family sick with flu, saying: "Come at once. Pile number one is on fire." Leaving his wife and two children, he told them to stay indoors and keep all the windows closed. At the factory he discarded his radiation recording badge, so that no one could tell him that he had exceeded permitted radiation dose limits, and made repeated inspections directly into the 80ft pile. Over the next few hours he was instrumental in directing the efforts which eventually brought the blaze under control. The pile structure survives to this day,[1] too radioactive for decommissioning to be completed until 2037.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thomas Tuohy: Windscale manager who doused the flames of the 1957 fire
  2. ^ Tom Tuohy

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