A veteran anti-nuclear campaigner has said Ireland should not be afraid to offend Britain by insisting on the shutdown of Sellafield.
Sean Dunne, an early member of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and husband of Adi Roche of Chernobyl Children International, said the Government must use all its muscle to demand an end to operations at the nuclear waste reprocessing plant.
Energy Minister Denis Naughten is seeking a meeting of the UK-Ireland Contact Group on Radiological Matters to discuss last Monday’s BBC Panorama programme which alleged serious safety shortcomings at the plant.
He has also asked for a detailed report on the incidents specifically referred to in the Panorama broadcast and all other safety issues raised.
But Mr Dunne said the Government also needed to demand access to carry out an immediate site inspection.
“There is an agreement that we have the right to access the site so, as quickly as possible, we should formally dispatch an investigative delegation to enter Sellafield and see for themselves the conditions of the storage facilities there.
“I would be very surprised if they would have a difficulty with that. We would be asserting a right. They tried to fob off the Panorama team but there is a relationship between the Irish Government and the UK.
“We always talk of building bridges between the two countries but that doesn’t mean we can’t be critical. We cannot put our safety and the safety of generations to come at risk for the sake of diplomatic relations.”
Irish officials and technical experts last visited the site at Sellafield in April 2015 and Minister Naughten said he had received an assurance from his officials that they were “satisfied with the level of disclosures that they continually receive from the Sellafield operator and UK government officials”.
The British government and the operators of Sellafield moved swiftly after Monday’s broadcast to insist the facility was safe and that any problems raised in the programme were historic and had been dealt with.
But Mr Dunne said nothing about Sellafield could be consigned to history.
“Sellafield is always going to be with us because the problem of waste storage is always going to be with us.
“They need to shut it down and not take any more nuclear waste there. The world’s governments need to come together to find a way to deal with what’s left because the waste is radioactive for tens of thousands of years and the storage solutions we have now won’t last,” he said.
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