O’Brien accuses government of hoodwinking public on UK’s nuclear plans

28th October, 2013

Fingal’s agriculture and horticulture sectors at increased risk if UK expand nuclear plants

The government have clearly dropped the ball in terms of being transparent and vigilant in relation to the UK’s expanding energy sector. Ireland is obliged via international law to consult with its public in relation to parts of the UK’s planned expansion of its nuclear sector and it has failed to do so. Such is the seriousness of this failure to be transparent that the United Nations wrote to the Department of the Environment on October 14th seeking an explanation.  

While a new plant is planned for Somerset I also have serious concerns about the expansion of the plant in Wyfla near Holyhead in Wales which was soon to be shutdown. This new Wyfla plant would only be 100kms from the coast of Fingal.

These developments are particularly relevant to Fingal’s agriculture and horticulture sectors. There are 600 farmers in Fingal, 14.5% of national potato output, 47% of field vegetable output, 70 herds of cattle and 80 of sheep. Ireland’s own Radiological Protection Institute has detailed various scenarios if there were different levels of accident in Wyfla and these need to be in the public domain. One scenario mentions the following implications:

 

Long term risk of an increase in cancer rates if the planned food controls and agriculture protective actions are not put in place People would be advised to stay indoors as much as possible during the passage of the plume (24 to 48 hours). Food controls and/or long-term changes in farming practices would be required to ensure that long-term radiation doses from contaminated food would not reach levels that could increase cancer risks to the population. These measures would have high socio-economic costs. Additional monitoring of the environment and food required in the years to decades following the accident.

 

There should be vociferous opposition from the Irish government to the UKs expansion plans. Frankly it would appear that the government have become a bit sheepish when it comes to defending Ireland’s interests with the UK. There should be immediate public consultations in Fingal and across Ireland on the UK’s plans and they should include information and the implications for Ireland of various types of accident at these plants. The defence of a very low probability of an accident at these nuclear power plants does not cut it for me – nobody thought there would be problems at Chernobyl, Fukushima  or Windscale. There is only one certainty when it comes to nuclear power plants they only pose no risk if they don’t exist