“Sellafield poses a grave threat to our society and environment”, said South Down MP Chris Hazzard.
Chris Hazzard MP has today (23 October) repeated Sinn Féin’s call to close the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria on the Irish Sea immediately, following a chemical incident at the installation on Saturday past.
An incident at Sellafield at the weekend has caused a strong political action in Northern Ireland.
The South Down MP said: “Saturday’s incident at Sellafield once again highlights the extreme risk and danger this major nuclear installation in Britain poses to society and our environment here on this side of the Irish Sea.
“Sellafield no longer generates energy. It should be closed immediately. Today’s incident follows years of controversy about concerns regarding safety and dangerously low staffing levels.
“Ireland, and South Down in particular, is on the front line of the threat posed by Sellafield.
“Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on the British government to close the Sellafield facility and to oppose the construction of other nuclear plants across the Irish Sea. The Irish government must also play its part in protecting Irish citizens from the Sellafield threat.”
Following a chemical inventory audit in a laboratory, the Sellafield authorities took the decision to dispose of a number of chemicals which are no longer used in their operations and have been stored since 1992.
In line with best practice and established procedures, they alerted the relevant partner agencies and sought advice on managing this material in accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations.
The disposal of two batches of chemicals from a laboratory at Sellafield has now been safely and successfully completed.
The army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team carried out the second of two controlled detonations at a safe location on the Sellafield site shortly before 4pm.
The cordon from around the laboratory has no been removed. The site is working as it would be on any other Saturday.
Update at 15:15 Saturday 21 October
A spokesperson for Sellafield said: “The disposal of the chemicals from a laboratory on the Sellafield site is taking place in two batches.
“The first batch was transferred from our laboratory to another location on the Sellafield site and successfully and safely detonated by Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team at around 2.15pm today.
“The second batch has been removed from the laboratory and is currently being transferred to the same on-site location, where it will be disposed of. We expect that to have happened before 16:00 today.”
An early press statement indicated that this was NOT a radiological event, adding that the chemicals were contained within a small number of canisters which need to be removed and disposed of appropriately.
The materials involved are solvents which are widely used in industry. The spokesperson said: “They will be disposed of in a controlled manner. An area of the site is cordoned off as a precaution, but the rest of the site is operational and the majority of our staff who would be in at the weekend are at work and working normally.
“The army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team deal with hundreds of these issues every year, recovering chemicals from science laboratories in places like schools and universities.
“These chemicals are used extensively in many industries and are well understood. Because this is happening on the Sellafield site we exercise extreme caution and leave nothing to chance.”
The Sellafield spokesperson added: “As is usual in these scenarios, a specialised unit was invited to attend the Sellafield site to assess the material and advise on its safe disposal. That team, from the army’s Explosives Ordinance Disposal Team, will dispose of the material safely.
“They will dig a trench, bury the canisters using sandbags, and detonate them in a controlled manner. This will create a noise that will be audible off-site, but there is no need for alarm.”
(The chemicals involved are solvents, such as Tetrahydrofuran, which are potentially flammable in liquid states and can crystallise and become unstable when exposed to air (oxygen) Crystallisation takes a number of days.)
Margaret Ritchie , South Down SDLP Constituency Representative, Calls For Minister To Make Statement.
European Commission must intervene with the British Government in relation to the latest chemical link at Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant
Margaret Ritchie said: “On last Saturday morning, we were informed of yet another safety risk at Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant in Cumbria involving chemicals.
“This quickly followed the Panorama programme of 12 months ago which highlighted the ongoing safety risks at this plant; that the workers were exposed to such risks; that such chemical and other leaks of waste material impacted on the local land and sea environment thus affecting wider public.
“Due to the catalogue of security risks and the ongoing radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea from Sellafield over a long period of time, the European Commission must intervene through it’s role with Euratom with the British Government to ensure a full investigation it’s place; that proper technical measures are put in place which would an end to such security risks.
“It is worth bearing in mind that Sellafield has and continues to be the launderer of the world;s radioactive waste. That is unacceptable and has to cease.
“Above all, it is about time the European Commission advised the British Government to close down Sellafield with a proper decommissioning progamme in place., The decommissioning programme that was put in place is acting too slowly and is ineffective.”
Ms Ritchie added: “Furthermore, the Minister with responsibility for Sellafield must go and make a public statement in Parliament today or tomorrow and indicate what measures will be taken working with Euratom to end once and for all such unacceptable practices at Sellafield.