The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is delighted to welcome Meath County Council and Wexford County Council into its movement after recent decisions to affiliate at full council meetings this month. In both cases, support for the NFLA was wide and cross-party in nature.
A part of the reason for the decisions of the Councils comes from real concern in Ireland over the safety of the Sellafield site on the other side of the Irish Sea, and plans for six nuclear reactors at Sellafield Moorside, Wylfa and Hinkley Point, all comparatively short distances from the east coast of Ireland.
In a recent BBC ‘Panorama’ documentary (1), serious allegations were made on Sellafield, including:
- ‘Panorama’ found parts of the Sellafield site regularly have too few staff to operate them safely. During one quarter there was 19 times that such issues occurred. Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the UK Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee was shocked by the figures and said in the documentary: “It is incredible. It defies belief actually that anything could be working at below safe staffing levels. There is no excuse.”
- Radioactive materials like uranium and plutonium have been stored in degrading plastic bottles in cupboards for a number of years. Only now are they beginning to be dealt with.
- The whistle-blower (a former senior manager at Sellafield) said his biggest fear was a fire in one of the nuclear waste silos or one of the reprocessing plants, saying: “If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across Western Europe.”
- Parts of the site are “dangerously run down” and officials from its former managing company Nuclear Management Partners raised concerns some sites could collapse over time, creating a potential environmental catastrophe and a dangerous radioactive release.
- The full cost of decommissioning Sellafield could be as high as £162 billion (€192bn) and take over a century to undertake.
NFLA have called on both the Irish and UK Governments to investigate these claims and called on detailed reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the impact of a major accident from the Sellafield site.
The NFLA All Ireland lead authority in Northern Ireland, Newry, Mourne and Down Council, also passed a unanimous resolution of concern over the findings of the documentary, and they have taken up an offer from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to visit the Sellafield site.
Meath and Wexford Councils are interested in the support and promotion NFLA is giving to decentralised energy projects across Ireland and the UK. NFLA has recently published a major review of energy policy in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, calling for a greater level of ambition from central government and local government as occurs in England, Scotland and Wales. (2)
Meath and Wexford councillors will get an early opportunity to meet with fellow NFLA councillors across Britain and the island of Ireland at the upcoming NFLA Annual Meeting and Policy Seminar being held in Dublin City Hall. Speakers include the NFLA Secretary, Friends of the Earth Ireland’s Oisin Coughlan (invited) and the NFLA’s representative to the EPA’s Radiation Issues Committee, Dr Paul Dorfman. (3)
NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair Councillor Mark Dearey said:
I am delighted to welcome Meath and Wexford County Councils to the fold, through the hard work of Councillors Claire O’Driscoll and Deirdre Wadding. NFLA is the principal voice on nuclear issues in local government across Britain and Ireland and is playing an important role in scrutinising the nuclear industry and offering sustainable alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels. With the price of renewables rapidly falling, the desire of local authorities and community energy cooperatives to deliver decentralised energy growing, and new solutions in energy efficiency and energy storage coming forward, this is an excellent time to be joining the NFLA. I look forward to meeting them at our AGM in Dublin and working with them on the need to develop a sustainable and renewable island of Ireland forthwith.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on either 0161 234 3244 or 07771 930196.
Notes for editors:
(1) NFLA Media Release, September 6th 2016 https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/news/bbc-panorama-sellafield-documentary-nfla-calls-foreign-minister-demands-answers-whistleblower-allegations
(2) NFLA Policy Briefing 151 on Irish energy policy, and 152 on decentralised energy in England, Scotland and Wales
(3) NFLA Annual Policy Seminar, Dublin City Hall Council Chamber, 25th November, 1pm – 3pm
Energy policy, renewables futures, Brexit & Sellafield – what Councils need to know.
- Meeting introduction by Cllr Mark Dearey, NFLA All Ireland Forum Co Chair / Louth CC – “Energy futures in the British and Irish Isles”
- Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary – “NFLA’s decentralised energy vision and the issues posed by Brexit”
- Oisin Couglan (invited), Friends of the Earth Ireland Co-ordinator – “How should Irish energy policy develop and how do we become energy citizens?”
- Dr Paul Dorfman, NFLA representative to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Radiation Issues Committee – “The risks from Sellafield and the UK new nuclear vision to Ireland”
- Concluding comments by Cllr Ernie Galsworthy, NFLA UK & Ireland Steering Committee Chair
Details available from the NFLA Secretariat – firstname.lastname@example.org