The BBC Panorama programme (5 September) has raised serious issues about the safety of the Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria, just 170km from the Irish Coast .
The Panorama investigation was prompted by a former senior manager turned whistleblower who expressed fears about conditions there. The programme alleged that radioactive plutonium and uranium were stored in plastic bottles at Sellafield, and the facility often did not have enough people on duty to meet minimum safety levels.
The whistleblower said his biggest fear was a fire in a nuclear waste silo or processing plant. “If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across western Europe.”
The Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine in 1986 claimed 31 lives directly, led to the deaths of many thousands more through cancers and contaminated huge swathes of eastern Europe.
In the case of Sellafield, Ireland would be directly in the firing line and the consequences would be devastating.
Two things follow from this : the Irish Government should immediately add its voice to the many calls for Sellafield to be shut down and there should be no more talk of nuclear power as a solution to the climate crisis caused by fossil fuels – nuclear power is inherently unsafe.
Also when are we going to get some serious investigative journalism from RTÉ instead of leaving it all to the BBC?