AMs Join Fight to Stop Nuclear Plant Expansion

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Byline: Tom Bodden Welsh Affairs Correspondent

NORTH Wales AMs are to raise serious concerns over the potential health impact of the expansion of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

The move follows a call by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahearn for the people of Britain to help him to get the plant shut down as "a danger to the entire population of these islands".

Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt will make a statement to the National Assembly early in the New Year to try to answer the fears of AMs.

Now Caernarfon AM Dafydd Wigley has written to Mr Ahearn seeking any specific steps which could be taken within the Assembly's powers.

"I have also asked if there are specific new problems, which had been highlighted which give a new angle to the issue, " he said.

"The problem is that the overall rate of cancer has been increasing and it therefore makes it difficult to earmark what might be attributable to what's coming from Sellafield. I wish that this scheme in Sellafield wasn't going ahead."

Clwyd West AM Alun Pugh said: "I am not a scientist but anyone who has followed the evidence of Windscale or Sellafield over the last couple of decades isn't going to be satisfied with small reassurances.

"I think we need a detailed expert assessment of health risks for residents living along the North Wales coast.

"When the Government of Ireland makes an international issue out of radioactive contamination in the Irish Sea we clearly need to take notice, " said Mr Pugh.

"Colwyn Bay and Abergele are a lot closer to Sellafield. I have been concerned for some time on the cumulative effects of a discharge of a cocktail of toxic and radioactive substances into the Irish Sea."

Irish Consul to Wales Jim Carroll said that the Irish concern about the Mox plant related to safety standards and management; storage on site in liquid form of high levels of radioactive waste; continued reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel; and the transport of nuclear fuel.

"The discharge of radioactive materials into the Irish Sea is a major concern and there is always the risk of a catastrophic accident, not matter how marginal, " he said.

The Irish Government has made no secret of its opposition and went to the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea at the United Nations to seek an injunction to prevent the commissioning of the new plant.

"Unfortunately this was not conceded by the tribunal, " said Mr Carroll.

"But they did undertake to do a review of the operation of the MOX fuel plant. …