‘Make Sellafield safe before major catastrophe’ – Ritchie

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Thursday, November 13th, 2014
SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has said that the British Government must urgently intervene to ensure the safety of the Sellafield Nuclear site after pictures emerged showing crumbling infrastructure around hundreds of tonnes of radioactive material. Speaking to Newry Times, Ritchie said, “I have previously called on the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency to accelerate its programme of work at the Sellafield site to ensure that public safety is not compromised by the appallingly dangerous conditions that spent nuclear fuel rods are being kept in. “It is time now for the British Government to urgently intervene to protect the public from a nuclear catastrophe waiting to happen. “I have warned the Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning agency about the state of nuclear fuel storage ponds at Sellafield. The ponds, containing highly irradiated material, have been allowed to degrade to the point where concrete is fractured and cracked. “If an accident, or a terrorist attack, takes place causing these ponds to drain, the huge volume of fuel will ignite upon contact with air resulting in the dispersal of huge amounts of irradiated material across a wide area. This puts the public at immediate, grave risk. “The SDLP has argued for years that proper decommissioning and cleanup of the Sellafield plant and proper safety standards were not adhered to, putting the public at risk. The British Government is in complete control of the domestic Nuclear industry. “They’re paying £1.7bn every year to private companies to clean up Sellafield. And those same companies now say it will be decades before these high risk ponds are cleaned. That is utterly unacceptable and I will be raising this as a matter of urgency with Prime Minister David Cameron. Ritchie added, “Residents and farmers in the east of Ireland have had to deal with the consequences of poor safety at Sellafield for years. We cannot allow that to happen again with further lapses and inadequate attention paid to the decommissioning of the plant.”
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