Wednesday, 10 January 2007

THORP reopening a "missed opportunity" says Dick Roche in meeting with UK Secretary of State

Mr. Dick Roche met Alistair Darling, M.P., Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday. The meeting addressed issues relating to Sellafield, and in particular the THORP Plant.

This issue reminds us all of the reasons why Ireland should NOT be planning for nuclear.

Minister Roche said: "The purpose of my meeting here today was to once again impress on the UK Government the extent of Ireland's concerns about the dangers of Sellafield. Our view is that the operations there are uneconomic, environmentally damaging and have a particularly poor safety track record. I particularly drove home our concerns regarding the THORP Plant which has been closed for almost two years following a serious leak of radioactive waste and is expected to reopen shortly. An announcement to that effect is, I understand, imminent."

The Minister and the Secretary of State also discussed the UK Energy Review, which concluded that the UK would have to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to meet projected electricity demand. The Minister said: "I reminded the Secretary of State that adverse consequences have arisen for Ireland as a result of nuclear policy decisions and actions by the UK in the past and that any building of new nuclear stations would be viewed by us in that context. Most especially I sought and received assurances that nuclear new build was not on the horizon for Northern Ireland. This echoes the stated view of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain on this issue".

The Secretary of State confirmed in regard to the current THORP reprocessing programme that the expected completion date remains 2010 as scheduled. I impressed upon the Secretary of State that the strong view of the Irish Government that the operating life of the THORP Plant should not be extended. My own view is that the decision to reopen the Plant now, without at a minimum some form of international peer review is a missed opportunity to address, what is for the Irish population, a long standing source of concern".

The Minister concluded by saying: "The Irish Government's concerns in relation to Sellafield are regularly and repeatedly conveyed to the UK Government at Ministerial and Official level. The United Kingdom Government is under no illusions as to Irish Government policy on Sellafield. In this regard, I can also promise the Irish people that I will continue to voice their concerns about reprocessing operations at Sellafield at every possible forum and today's meeting demonstrates that commitment on my part"

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