24 November 2005 Edition
EU support raised for anti-Sellafield campaign
BY JOANNE CORCORAN
A Sinn Féin delegation including Arthur Morgan TD, Caitríona Ruane MLA and Dundalk Councillor Tomás Sharkey, travelled to Brussels on Tuesday 22 November to hold discussions in relation to the Sellafield nuclear plant.
The three Sinn Féin representatives met with the party's Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, as well as Finnish, Swedish, Dutch, Welsh and other Irish MEPs, in an effort to enlist support from the European Parliament to close the discredited nuclear facility in the Northwest of England.
The visit took place in a week that has seen the debate on nuclear power escalate in Britain. On Monday, the British Government announced it would be taking a decision shortly on the future of nuclear energy.
Speaking to An Phoblacht from Brussels on Tuesday, Arthur Morgan said the nuclear debate was being re-opened in more countries than Britain. "Pro-nuclear states and lobbyists are pushing nuclear energy like never before," he said. "There is a danger that people who would normally be environmentally conscious aren't as aware as they should be about the dangers of nuclear power. It's being sold as a quick-fix to carbon emissions, but governments are ignoring environmentally-friendly energy industries."
Morgan said the delegation was delighted at the level of awareness among a significant number of MEPs on the nuclear issue, particularly around the area of reprocessing nuclear waste, one of the more hazardous sections of nuclear projects.
"We hope that after today a stronger, more united anti-Sellafield and nuclear campaign will emerge," he said. "As part of that we're thinking about organising a conference on the nuclear issue. The British Government holds the presidency of the EU at the moment, so it's particularly relevant that we should start that campaign here and now."
Sellafied has been dogged by controversy since its inception over 30 years ago, but in the last year or so frightening revelations about goings-on at the plant have come to light. An annual audit of nuclear material there in 2004 revealed 30 kilograms of plutonium remained unaccounted for. In the same year, the European Commission began legal proceedings against the British Government in the European Court of Justice for its failure to comply with strict inspection rules.
In May of this year there was a leak at the plant which wasn't reported to the Irish Government for three days.