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Concerns raised about Irish nuclear risk

Sinn Féin have reacted to the potential harm that health and safety lapses at the controversial Sellafield plant could have.

The Sellafield plant in Cumbria
The Sellafield plant in Cumbria
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images/ Peter Byrne

SINN FÉIN HAVE hit out at the Sellafield nuclear plant over its potential risk to the Irish public.

This comes in response the the first annual report issued by the British Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). In the report, improvements at Sellafield site are outlined as being a matter of urgency.

Making reference to the age and fragility of the complex, the report described the renewal of the site as being of “national priority”.

Speaking about the site, Sinn Féin Foreign Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD said:

“The Sellafield plant continues to roll from one crisis to another and it is an unwelcome blot on the Irish horizon…  since its construction it has been associated with numerous health risks to those living on Ireland’s east coast.”

The site is located in Cumbria, in the north of England and lies around 180 km from the Irish coast. There have been some concerns about the potential impact that an incident at the facility would have here.

However, an assessment recently issued by the Irish Government demonstrated that in the majority of cases an incident at the site would have a low level impact in Ireland.

The report from the ONR goes on to say:

We recognise that some of the older facilities at Sellafield do not meet modern engineering standards and their safety cases therefore cannot demonstrate the high standards required for nuclear facilities.

In January of this year workers at the plant were asked to stay at home due to elevated radiation levels. At the time, the operator of the plant said that they were operating at a “reduced manning level”.

It was later shown that the incident had occurred because of naturally occurring background radon. In a statement after the incident the company said:

“All of our plants and storage facilities were quickly confirmed as operating normally, and we were always confident that the issue posed no risk to the workforce or public because the levels being detected, whilst above background radiation levels, were still low.”

Read: Sellafield says there is ‘no risk to public’ because of elevated radiation levels

Also: Sellafield facilities “do not meet modern standards” – UK nuclear watchdog

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