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4 October 2001 Edition

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Insane Sellafield expansion to proceed

Sinn FÈin Spokesperson on the Environment, Louth Councillor Arthur Morgan, has described the decision to approve the re-starting of the 'MOX' plant at Sellafield as 'a death sentence for those living on Ireland's East Coast'. He called on the Taoiseach to intervene immediately to ensure that the British government reverse the move.

The British government has given the go-ahead for the state-owned British Nuclear Fuels Limited to start operating a new atomic fuel plant at Sellafield despite fears about the safety and health implications of such a decision.

The £470M MOX Plant was built five years ago yet has lain idle ever since. In 1999, MOX was at the centre of controversy after workers in a pilot plant falsified quality control data for new fuel pellets. The ensuing scandal severely damaged BNFL's reputation world wide, especially in Japan where a trial consignment of fuel was about to be loaded into a reactor. Since then, Japanese utilities have refused to sign any contracts with BNFL.

Morgan said: "Today's decision to approve the £462m MOX (mixed oxide) plant at Sellafield comes in the midst of repeated warning to the British government about the likelihood of terrorist attacks on ships taking the fuel to countries such as Japan. This follows the September 11 atrocities.

"Over the years BNFL and the British government have shown little concern for the health of Irish citizens but this latest move defies logic.

"At last weekend's Sinn FÈin Ard Fheis a motion calling for the closure of Sellafield, which I proposed, received the unanimous support of my party. We have continuously expressed our concern about the restarting of the MOX plant at Sellafield and the proposed energy policy review in Britain which is actively promoting increased use of nuclear power in Britain.

"The Dublin government should immediately approach their British counterparts to have this decision reversed. Rhetoric from Fianna Fail and the PDs is not enough. Sellafield must be closed and our government must be to the fore-front of the campaign to ensure that this happens."

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