Northern Ireland

Sellafield must be decommissioned, says South Down MP

Sellafield Image copyright PA

A plan to decommission Sellafield must come now after new safety concerns were uncovered by a BBC investigation, the MP for South Down has said.

Margaret Ritchie says the risks exposed by Panorama are the latest in a "litany of hazards" since Sellafield became a nuclear waste processing site.

Ms Ritchie has previously spoken out about the discharge of radioactive material into the Irish Sea.

Sellafield insists the site in Cumbria is safe and has seen recent investment.

The BBC Panorama investigation, prompted by a whistleblower, found parts of Sellafield regularly have too few staff to operate safely and that radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles.

Sellafield reprocesses and stores nearly all of the UK's nuclear waste.

Inside Sellafield: Working with a whistle-blower

'Toxic burden'

Ms Ritchie, from the SDLP, said it was time for an "acceleration of the nuclear decommissioning process and the establishment of a secure, long-term containment strategy" for the Sellafield waste.

"It has always been needlessly reckless to place a nuclear waste processing site on a geological fault line, and the indiscriminate discharge of radioactive material into the waters of the Irish Sea has damaged delicate marine ecosystems," she said.

"That is why I and the SDLP have consistently opposed the transportation of nuclear waste to Sellafield by air, sea or land."

"The government must also learn from these hazards and avoid worsening the situation with new nuclear developments at Moorside and Hinkley Point.

"Nuclear waste is a toxic burden that lasts for generations and cannot ever be part of a truly sustainable electric grid."

Panorama - Sellafield's Nuclear Safety Failings is broadcast on BBC One on Monday 5 September at 20:30. Or catch up afterwards on BBC iPlayer

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