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Radioactive Sellafield Pipes washing up on Irish Shores

5 December, 2003

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Willie Clarke is demanding that British Nuclear Fuels explain why sections of discharged pipe from the Sellafield Processing Plant have been found washed up on local beaches.

Mr Clarke said:

"Sections of discharge pipe, over two metres in length and described by BNFL as being 'lightly radioactively contaminated' were being removed from the seabed as part of the Sea Line Recovery programme when they broke free from their retaining cages. This most recent 'mishap' is just the latest in a catalogue of accidents and near disasters which has plagued the Cumbria plant since its opening in 1947.

"Radioactive discharge pipes are now being washed up on our beaches and it is highly unlikely that local people will be reassured by the claims of BNFL that these pipes pose no health risk.

"The operation to remove the redundant pipes began earlier this year and was being used as a method to test the system before attempting to salvage the more heavily contaminated steel pipelines historically used for the highly radioactive reprocessing charges. BNFL has a number of serious questions to answer. If these steel reprocessing pipes had broken loose during their removal then there was a real risk of serious radioactive contamination.

"I will demanding a full explanation from BNFL - what exactly is missing in the Irish Sea, and what is the extent of the contamination caused. I will also be seeking an urgent meeting with the present direct rule British minister for the Environment, Angela Smith.

"The long-term impact of Sellafield on our environment has been very negative, the health risks major and the potential it has for causing a catastrophe cannot be overstated. This incident highlights yet again its abysmal safety record and illustrates the dangers of the nuclear industry in Britain. Sellafield must be closed and there must be an immediate end again to the dumping of nuclear waste in the Irish Sea." ENDS

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