SDLP Leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has expressed concern at a radioactive leak at a former nuclear processing plant in Dounreay, Scotland.
The plant is currently closed and is subject to decommissioning.
Ms Ritchie, who is the SDLP’s energy spokesperson at Westminster, said, “I have serious concerns about the nuclear industry’s safety standards and urge for full compliance with all safety requirements at all nuclear sites especially those which are no longer active.
“Alarmingly, it is the intention of the British Government to expand the nuclear industry and in light of this leak, particularly. The SDLP is calling on them and the Scottish Executive to step away from such potentially dangerous enlargement plans.
“The health concerns regarding nuclear plants, particularly Sellafield, have been well documented and so too have the objections of people on our island to these nuclear stations. With such historical and ongoing opposition to the production and storage of nuclear waste only miles from our coasts, the British Government must seriously review their nuclear expansion plans.”
The Dounreay plant is now being demolished and when the leak was discovered remedial action was taken by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and it was stopped. An investigation was carried out. The cost of the restoration plan comes to a hefty £2.8 billion. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency are overseeing the site.
Mr Ritchie added, “The hurried report expected this week into the Fukushima disaster must not give rise to further nuclear installations in the UK. Rather, the British Government should be making efforts to close nuclear stations and ensure that there is comprehensive decommissioning of those plants which are no longer active.
“We saw the problems which exist at former nuclear plants at the link in Dounreay at the weekend and the negative environmental implications of these radioactive plants.
“The health concerns regarding nuclear plants are also extremely concerning. It is estimated that there are 300,000 children living near the Fukushima plant with thyroid abnormalities and in light of the rise in radiation after Chernobyl in 1986 this is very worrying.
“Indeed the health risks posed to people by Sellafield have been well documented and so too have the objections of people on our island, particularly in coastal areas, to the expansion of nuclear stations.
“With such historical and on-going opposition to the production and storage of nuclear waste only miles from our coasts, the SDLP at Westminster will be calling on the British Government to stall their nuclear expansion plans.”