SDLP Leader and South Down MP Ritchie has demanded that the British Government abandon plans for the construction of nuclear power stations, and particularly any further developments at Sellafield which is the world’s ‘nuclear dustbin’.
Margaret Ritchie said today, “Given that Japan is facing a nuclear crisis as a consequence of the earthquake in March, the impact of this earthquake on Fukushima nuclear reactor, the shut-down of 0hi reactor on Friday 15th July, one would think that Britain would take heed from the Japanese experience and pause for serious reflection and abandon plans for the future construction of new nuclear power stations at existing plants.
“In particular communities in Ireland, North and South would have serious concerns about the extension of the nuclear empire at Sellafield and to a lesser extent at Trawnsfynnd in Wales.
“It is worth noting that the Sellafield nuclear re-processing plant is built on a geological fault-line. What would happen if there was a tremor or small earthquake at that location? What would be the impact on the West coast of Britain or on communities in Ireland? Therefore, any further expansion to the existing plant should not be tolerated.
“Questions have to be asked to ascertain if the decisions about the expansion of the nuclear empire were based on rational scientific argument or simply on Britain’s desire to enhance the nuclear infrastructure.
“What will be the impact of additional infrastructure on the land and marine environment? What consultation took place with local communities adjacent to the proposed plants and on both sides of the Irish Sea? What consultation took place with Devolved Institutions before proceeding with such proposed new build?
“What consultation took place with medical and health experts about the impact of the release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere on the health and well-being of people living in nearby communities?
“What research was undertaken to prove that the additional new build plant was required at Sellafield when historical evidence could suggest that perhaps THORP and MOX plants constructed in the 1990s were surplus to requirements? The British Government needs to satisfactorily prove to the public that the existing plants are required before justifying additional new nuclear new build.
“And more importantly, whilst Britain is pursuing a further nuclear agenda, other countries such as Germany, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland and Japan have all now grasped the nettle, listened to their communities and taken the decision to phase out their Nuclear Power Programmes, concentrating instead on major investment in renewables and energy conservation.
“Take for example, Germany is planning an entirely non-nuclear route, even with the same 2050 objective of an 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions and expects electricity demand to fall by 25% because it is implementing a comprehensive energy efficient programme.
“The simple answer is for Britain to abandon it’s further nuclear programme in favour of greater investment in renewables and energy conservation as the way forward. Follow the lead of other countries – that is what the communities on the East Coast of Ireland expect and demand”, added Ms Ritchie.