Nuclear leaks are ‘regular’

The Sellafield nuclear processing plant

The Sellafield nuclear processing plant

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THE Celtic League has said, despite a terrorist scare at Sellafield last week, an accident at the plant is still the biggest threat facing the island.

And the pressure group’s director of information, Bernard Moffatt, has claimed accidental releases of radiation at plants around the Irish Sea ‘occur on a regular basis’.

Five men were arrested under the Terrorism Act last week after they were seen taking photos outside the Sellafield plant. They were later released without charge.

Last week’s Manx Independent tackled the issue with a front page story examining what contingencies were in place in the island to cope with an incident at Sellafield.

Responding to our story, Mr Moffatt said: ‘Sellafield is just one of a series of nuclear installations around the Irish Sea and the most potent threat to date has come not from terrorism but from accidents or accidental releases of radiation at these plants which occur on a regular basis.

‘One of the great “successes” of the British nuclear industry has been to market its safety record and yet the truth is that other than Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima the most serious nuclear accidents had happened in the United Kingdom.

‘The most serious were the Sellafield fire in the 1950s and the refuelling accident at Wylfa in the 1990s but in between and since there have been a litany of more minor incidents.’

Mr Moffatt said the most immediate danger still posed by Britain’s nuclear industry was from accident and poor health and safety.

‘This is not helped by what we perceive as to cosy a relationship between the industry, regulators and the UK Government,’ said Mr Moffatt. ‘Undoubtedly terrorism, particularly in the post 9/11 environment, poses an increased risk. However here again the UK government and the industry have shown themselves to be wanting.

‘Security and the no fly zone around nuclear plants was only beefed-up after the event, though concerned groups including the Celtic League had highlighted these areas of deficiency.

‘Astonishingly, even after 9/11, security was lax and the most “memorable” article we published on this highlighted the lack of security surrounding transports of nuclear waste by rail to the Sellafield plant which revealed that train-spotters regularly posted details of nuclear rail shipments on their enthusiast websites. After we alerted them in March 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency raised the issue with the UK.

‘Two years later there were still concerns about the security of the transports when a UK journalist gained access to a Cumbria-bound transport.

‘Even today train-spotting anoraks can trace the trains via the location of the type of locomotive used to haul them. You couldn’t make it up.’

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