[Sinn Fein]

27th November 2001

Damning report on Sellafield must be acted on

Sinn Fein Louth County Councillor Arthur Morgan has described the findings of a EU report into Sellafield as a damning inditement of the plant. Cllr. Morgan said ``One of the most shocking findings of the report is that the EU Commission is not in a position to guarantee that basic safety standards are respected at Sellafield.

Cllr. Morgan said:

``This is the most damning report ever produced on the operation of the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing plant. It challenges the economic activities of the reprocessing industry as well as the extremely casual approach of the EU Commission towards its duty to ``verify'' activities at Sellafield. The main reason cited for the EU`s neglect of its obligation is ``budgetary'' shortfalls.

One of the Reports conclusions states: ``The Member States UK and France apparently have not complied with Article 34 of the Euratom Treaty, since they have never requested the European Commission's opinion under the Article concerning any of their activities at Sellafield and La Hague ........ The Commission's verification activities make ineffective use of its control rights over monitoring equipment. Statements by the Commission on monitoring at Sellafield and La Hague are not backed up by credible data''.

``The Report also states that the Commission is not in a position to guarantee that the ``Basic Safety Standards'' are respected at these Plants. Directives from the Commission that could close down a bread shop in an instant if it did not comply with safety standards are regularly enforced, yet they are not implemented in an industry that, according to this Report, would cost more than one million lives if a successful attack occurred there.''

``The danger which Sellafield represents to the people of Ireland cannot be over-stated. For example, there are twenty-one tanks filled with High Level Liquid Waste (highly radioactive substance). If these were hit by a plane then the result would almost certainly be 100 times greater than that at Chernobyl.

Councillor Morgan said:

``While there have been some  reductions of radioactive emissions, others which are much more harmful are on the increase. It is important to remember that increases of releases of key radionuclides from Sellafield in the late 1990s and expected future discharges are inconsistent with obligations under the OSPAR Convention.

Childhood Leukemia

``The authors examined all of the data available relating to the high incidence of childhood leukemia in Seascale, a village close to Sellafield. On average, the rate is approximately eight times higher than what would be expected, compared to Britain`s national average.''

``The Report concludes ``The cause or combination of causes of the observed leukaemia increases are not known. Many uncertainties remain. Radiation exposure due to radionuclide releases from Sellafield cannot be excluded as a cause for the observed health effects.''

Councillor Morgan goes on to say:

``Much of this evidence could have been uncovered long ago, if our MEPs had conducted even cursory research in the EU Parliament. But perhaps this is the time to put such recriminations aside and focus on the real problem - the need to shut Sellafield.

``Recently, my colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD wrote to all party leaders suggesting a broad-based group be established, embracing members of all parties and environment groups to fight this killer plant together. There is still time for such a united approach, indeed, it has never been more essential than at present.''

``No one group will have all the answers; no one group will win this battle alone. This report offers the opportunity to do a real service for our people if we work together.''ENDS

Note: The report was commissioned by the European Parliament Directory General for Research -- Scientific & Technological Option Assessment (STOA) Programme

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