Thursday, 1 November 2007

Northern Ireland Assembly calls for Sellafield to close

The Northern Ireland Assembly called for Sellafield to close. Ive copied some of their debate below. They are sufferng the problems from leaks into the Irish Sea, without any benefit of electricity or say into the matter. No radiation withought representation!

Fifty years ago, there was radioactive fallout from a major accident at the Windscale nuclear reactor. New research shows that the incident generated twice as much radioactive material and caused dozens more cancers than was previously thought. At the time, the Windscale fire was the world’s biggest nuclear disaster. The methods used to extinguish the fire could have caused an explosion, but, fortunately, they did not.

Tom Tuohy, who was the deputy general manager on the site, led the team that had to contend with a nightmare that no one at that time had thought possible. He said:
“Mankind had never faced a situation like this”. However, the Windscale accident was not a one-off. Just two years ago at Sellafield, there was a leakage of highly radioactive nuclear fuel. Approximately 20 tons of uranium and plutonium — enough to make 20 nuclear weapons — dissolved and escaped through a cracked pipe. Nordic
parliamentarians recently met the owners of Sellafield and told them that safety procedures at the nuclear plant needed to be tightened up. The British authorities have granted permission to resume reprocessing of nuclear waste at the THORP, which was closed several years ago because of a radioactive leak. The controversial THORP has aroused strong feelings in Nordic and Irish politicians. Ministers with
responsibility for the environment from Norway, the Twenty-six Counties, Iceland and Austria have demanded that it not be reopened.

A devastating official inquiry recently found that safety alarms had been routinely ignored, operating instructions flouted and safety equipment left broken at the controversial plant. The inquiry report, one of the most damming ever of a British nuclear installation, condemned the Cumbrian complex for its “alarm-tolerant culture”. It also identified: “long-standing failings in some key safety arrangements” and a “failure to learn from previous events”.

The accident at the THORP was disclosed by ‘The Independent on Sunday’ in 2005 and was the focus of the investigation. Some 83,000 litres of highly radioactive liquid leaked at the plant for at least eight months before the spill was detected.

The daughter of a man who died at the Sellafield reprocessing plant in the 1960s condemned the secretive nature of the British nuclear industry. In 1962, Jean McSorley’s father died from a heart attack at the nuclear plant at the age of 39, and his body was taken for an autopsy without his family’s consent. The body parts of 65 other workers who died at the plant between 1962 and 1991 appear to have been secretly examined for evidence of radiation. Ms McSorley said “Openness and transparency and the nuclear industry are mutually exclusive. They are always looking for reasons not to be fully open with the public.”

Indeed, the nuclear industry has never been open with the public. Sellafield remains a significant threat to people on this island, particularly to those who live in the north-east. Ministers as well as private Members should press the British Government on the issue at every opportunity. Irish people have been living with the consequences of the fire at Sellafield for many years, and there are particularly
high rates of cancer and birth defects in County Louth and south Down.
Sinn Féin has called on the Irish Government to convene round-table talks on Sellafield. Those invited should include non-govern­mental organisations, environmentalists, campaign groups and northern European states, particularly Norway, whose representatives have been highly vocal on the issue. Assembly representatives should also be involved in such a process.

An independent group has taken meter readings in the Twenty-six Counties. Recent readings show that the highest levels of nuclear contamination are to be found in areas of County Louth, County Meath and along the north Dublin coast — all are a stone’s throw away from Sellafield. A similar exercise should be carried out in the Six Counties to establish how much nuclear contamination has affected the entire east

The motion that passed is 'That this Assembly expresses concern at the findings of the report on the impact of the Windscale Piles accident at the Sellafield nuclear plant and the implications that this has for the health and well-being of people living on these islands and in Europe; calls upon the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to make public any data which it may have available in relation to this matter; and further calls upon the Government to discontinue all operations at the Sellafield nuclear plant within an agreed timescale, acceptable to the Government of the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

You can see the full debate at

Similar story at is but from June 06

Another interesting quote from
'According to the Northern Ireland Life & Times Survey, only 9% of people in Northern Ireland say that nuclear energy is safe - a staggering 59% describe it as extremely or very dangerous'.Mr Gardiner continued “We need a greater push towards green energy from alternative sources. At present alternative energy supplies only a tiny percentage of our national needs. Other options include photovoltaic solar energy for households contributing to the national grid, as well as more widespread use of wind power, especially with the predicted rise in wind strength predicted as part of our local climate change pattern. “I am deeply concerned that if we drift into the nuclear option, we will be storing up massive environmental problems for our children and future generations. People in Northern Ireland already have deep concerns about Sellafield and the prospect of any extension of nuclear power will rightly horrify the vast majority of people in this part of the United Kingdom”.

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