Louth at risk from border nuclear waste plans – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to the Minister for the Environment Richard Bruton TD asking if the government is “aware of or was consulted about a proposal by the British state’sRadioactive Waste Management group to store waste nuclear material deep underground in the Mournes and Slieve Gullion area.” Gerry Adams said: “The Irish government must ensure that the British government knows that it will not tolerate any nuclear waste facility being constructed on the island of Ireland”.

Teachta Adams said: “The British government is currently investigating sites which could potentially become storage dumps for thousands of tons of nuclear waste being produced by the British nuclear industry. Specifically, the group have examined the Mourne Mountains and the Slieve Gullion region, which have ‘higher strength rock’, as potential sites for what they call a Geological Disposal Facility.

In a recent report published just before Christmas the Radioactive Waste Management identified “granites and similar strong rocks around Newry, in which we may be able to site a GDF”. A recent extensive report by Greenpeace – The Global Crisis of Nuclear Waste – has provided a stark warning of the dangers involved in dumping nuclear waste underground.

The report states that the storing of waste material deep underground “has shown major flaws which exclude it for now as a credible option.” It points out that despite spending billions of dollars and decades of planning the USA has failed to secure a geological disposal site.

In 2018 the British government commenced an attempt to persuade a community willing to host a radioactive dump. This is their sixth such attempt over the last four decades. So far none have agreed. Currently Britain has what Greenpeace has described as “one of the largest and most complex nuclear waste problems in the world.” Its nuclear waste legacy has been made “dramatically more dangerous and expensive by its decades long plutonium reprocessing program based at Sellafield”.

Irish citizens living along the east coast have long been aware of the significant risk to people and the environment as a result of decades of accumulation of hazardous waste at Sellafield, much of it stored in outdated nuclear facilities. While the Nuclear Waste Management group cannot at this stage construct a nuclear dump in the Mournes or South Armagh without local agreement, that may not always be the case.

The failure by the British government to persuade any community to accept a nuclear dump means that at some point a British government will have to take a decision on where this waste goes. Currently nuclear waste is piling up in Britain and in other states that use nuclear power.

Today there is a global crisis with an estimated 250,000 tons of nuclear waste. The Irish government must ensure that the British government knows that it will not tolerate any nuclear waste facility being constructed on the island of Ireland. The government should also express its opposition to the current construction of a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. This is another nuclear facility just across the Irish Sea.”