Cllr Tom Cunningham Appalled at idea of Britain dumping Nuclear waste in Ireland

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has welcomed cross-party support for his motion at last night’s Ardee Municipal Council meeting.

Cllr Cunningham was moved to bring the motion before the Council asking that they write to the Minister for the Environment stating its opposition to the proposal by the British Government to dump its nuclear waste at a site in the Mourne Mountains and Slieve Gullion areas.

Cllr Cunningham said “the very idea that Britain or indeed any other country can come here, a country that has no nuclear power stations, to dump their nuclear waste is appalling. It is frightening and wholly unacceptable.”

“Nuclear waste is THE most toxic substance on the planet. It remains radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. During this time, no matter how well they believe it is secured, it still poses deadly threats to life in large surrounding areas. There are so many dangers connected to this proposal. All it would take would be a small earthquake or even a tremor, a human error at the storage facility or in transport across the sea or even a seal on the material to be broken or damaged and the surrounding areas will be contaminated.”

“It’s not hard to see why they don’t want it dumped in their own country!”

Following the passing of his motion, Cllr Cunningham said “we need Minister Bruton to send a very clear message to the British Government that this island is not a dumping ground for Britain’s nuclear waste. And while he is at it, state our opposition to yet another British nuclear plant being built, this time on the Isle of Anglesey which is far too close to this island for comfort. It is unacceptable to the people of Louth (closest neighbours in proximity) and Ireland as a whole.”

 Full text of motion reads: That this Council write to the Minister for the Environment to state its opposition to the proposal by the British Government to dispose of radioactive material in the Mourne Mountains and Slieve Gullion areas and that this Council urges the Minister for the Environment to inform the British Government that the Irish Government and the Irish citizens will not tolerate the disposal of radioactive material at any location on this island. We also ask the Minister for the Environment to state his objection to the construction of a new Nuclear plant on the Isle of Anglesey.

Minister’s assurances on border nuclear waste plans inadequate – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams has warned that “Britain’s radioactive waste disposal policy poses a serious environmental threat to the people of the island of Ireland.”

Gerry Adams wrote to Minister Bruton following the publication of reports that the British government was examining the construction of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for the dumping of nuclear waste in the Mourne Mountains and at Slieve Gullion. The Minister has now responded.

Gerry Adams said: “The Minister’s response does not quash the genuine concerns nor provide the assurances needed by people living adjacent to the geological sites identified by the Radioactive Waste Management where they believe there can be the “safe disposal of higher-activity radioactive waste.”.

In his reply to my correspondence the Minister describes the report as a “screening report”. This he says “is part of a technical exercise to map the geological characteristics of locations across the UK and Northern Ireland.”

However, the full title of the report on the British government website is ‘National Geological Screening for a GDF’ (Geological Disposal Facility). It adds that its purpose is to summarise the “geology of England, Wales and Northern Ireland that is relevant to the safe disposal of higher-activity radioactive waste.”

Whatever the British claim about this being a technical exercise it is clearly about identifying potential locations for Geological Disposal Facilities for nuclear waste. The enormous long term dangers presented by nuclear waste is clearly identified in the introduction to the report. It claims that people will be shielded from radiation because of the depth of the facility and depending on the type of rock will “either limit or completely prevent radioactivity from moving towards the surface when other barriers eventually degrade”.

What does ‘limit’ mean? How much radioactive will reach the surface? How will it impact on water sources? It is also claimed that geological disposal facilities deep underground will be protected from changes in sea level or future ice ages! How can the British government possibly know what climate or geological changes will occur over thousands of years? It is also important to note that in a report – The Global Crisis of Nuclear Waste – Greenpeace warned that the storing of waste material deep underground “has shown major flaws which exclude it for now as a credible option.”

While current British government policy is about finding a willing community to host a GDF the fact is that after 40 years of trying, not one community in Britain has volunteered to allow a radioactive waste disposal facility to be constructed near them. The Irish government should not quietly accept British government assurances. It must be assertive in opposing the construction of a nuclear waste facility anywhere on the island of Ireland”.

The Louth TD was also critical of the Irish government’s policy in respect of the British nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C and the 100 year programme of decommissioning currently taking place at Sellafield.

Teachta Adams said: “The Irish government should have an unequivocal policy of opposition to the construction of all nuclear power plants. While the Environmental Protection Agency may have no concerns at the current running of existing British plants the reality is that nuclear power is a grave threat.

At a time when there needs to be a greater emphasis on alternative forms of producing energy the Irish government should be actively opposing the nuclear power industry.”

British government report can be found: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/about-national-geological-screening-ngs

Cllr Antóin Watters Welcomes Positive Council Response on Waste Awareness

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed the response from Louth County Council to his recent motion on the issue at the September meeting.

Cllr Watters said “following the increase in illegal dumping in the north of the County, I put forward a motion asking that Louth Council initiate a county wide awareness campaign to highlight the issue but more importantly to ensure the public are aware of their own responsibilities and the danger to themselves if they use unlicensed waste collectors.”

Cllr Watters explained, “For example, if I pay ‘a man with a van’ to take away a mattress and maybe a settee or some other items and he dumps them at a beauty spot in the Cooley mountains, I am responsible because those items are mine and I did not use someone who holds a waste collection permit. I am responsible and can face fines even though I employed someone in good faith to take away my rubbish.”

“I don’t believe that the public in general are aware this is the law so I have asked for an awareness campaign similar to the one implemented by Meath County Council. I welcome the positive response which stated “The Council’s Environmental Awareness section will liaise with colleagues in Meath County Council to ascertain the effectiveness of their billboard campaign and seek to replicate same if this has proven to have been a successful initiative.

In the meantime, Cllr Watters asked that citizens “use only those waste collectors that hold the appropriate permits and that way you will know exactly where your rubbish is going to end up. Remember, your rubbish, your responsibility.”

Watters: Cross Border Action on Waste is Needed

Cllrs Mickey Larkin & Antóin Watters

Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed the motion before Newry Mourne & Down District Council (NMDDC) by his Sinn Féin colleague Mickey Larkin.

Cllr Watters who has been to the forefront of the issue said “fly tipping and dumping of toxic materials like tyres and building rubble is a scourge that we can’t ignore. This motion urges greater cooperation between the NMDDC and Louth County Council (LCC). This scourge is relentless and is blighting the Cooley, Mourne and Gullion regions.”

Cllr Watters said “the Slieve Gullion area has the highest level of fly-tipping in the North and I would go as far as to say Cooley and North Louth possibly have one of the highest levels in the South. Because of this, Cllr Mickey Larkin and I have been working closely together on this in an effort to tackle this issue which is a drain on the tax payers finances. Be under no illusion, it is you and I, the average tax payer, who are picking up the tab for these criminals who have no regard for our communities or countryside.”

The Motion by NMDDC mirrors a similar one brought by Cllr Watters to LCC.

Copy of Cllr Mickey Larkin’s Motion

Cllr Watters said “the motion is calling for increased cooperation between NMDDC and Louth County Council in an effort to tackle the issue.  It is also calling for a review of penalties for dumping to reflect the increasing costs to the Council and Rate Payers of the Council district.”

Further actions agreed by the Councillors in NMDDC were:

  • the Council contacting both Louth County Council and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council with a view to addressing fly tipping in a unified way;
  • addressing enforcement action in conjunction with the NIEA (Northern Ireland Environment Agency)
  • to carry out a fly tipping review and market the message of zero tolerance
  • to write to the relevant Department raising concerns and requesting prompt action.”

Cllr Watters concluded by saying “we can not let this continue. We need a joined up and multi-agency approach on this issue and make sure that the ordinary citizens are aware of their responsibility in waste disposal. The polluters are the ones who should be made pay, not the ordinary public.”

Cllr Antóin Watters Seeks Warrenpoint Waste Facility Application to be made available in Louth

Plans to put a hazardous waste facility in Warrenpoint, Co Down on the shores of Carlingford Lough has caused concern on both sides of Carlingford Lough.

ReGen Waste plans to develop a new waste management facility in Warrenpoint Harbour but given the delicate ecosystem in Carlingford Lough, unprecedented interest has understandably been sparked.

Cllr Antóin Watters who represents the Dundalk Carlingford area said “I have been approached by a number of constituents who have expressed concern that the plans for this facility were being advanced behind closed doors and away from public eyes. Following contact with our newly elected MP for the South Down area, Chris Hazzard, ReGen Waste representatives assured him that there will be a comprehensive community consultation process taking place over the summer ‘to ensure full transparency around this project and to give stakeholders an opportunity to have any concerns around this proposal addressed.’ I welcome that confirmation.”

“Chris Hazzard MP has called on the people in his area to scrutinize these plans and I am calling on people from North Louth to do the same. In order to help facilitate that scrutiny, I have today asked ReGen Waste to make a copy of the application available to Louth County Council so they can make it available for viewing in Dundalk.”

Chris Hazzard MP

“Given the delicate environmental setting of Warrenpoint Harbour on Carlingford Lough, we need to be very careful and wary of the development of anything that would be detrimental to that.”

Cllr Watters welcomed the fact that the “licence application for this project has been made available to the public in Warrenpoint Town Hall from Monday 10th July. I hope to update the public in Louth as to when it will be available in Dundalk. I would urge as many as possible from North Louth to study this application and I also call on Louth County Council to be very familiar with it as well.”

“We expect that as time goes on this project will attract interest from environmental campaigners from further afield but it is of the utmost importance that local people on both sides of the Lough are familiar with the project and any concerns they have are addressed.”