Sunday Life

Public inquiry call for Sellafield cancer risk

18 July 2004

THE risk of cancer to people along the Co Down coast from the Sellafield nuclear plant could be 10 TIMES higher than previously thought, a new report has warned.

The report - published in the New Scientist magazine - claims low-level radioactive pollution from the controversial facility may be "dangerously" high.

The document - compiled by a team of experts - found the risk of cancer from exposure to plutonium could be 10 times higher than is currently accounted for by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), which sets international safety limits.

The report was intended for the Government, but was leaked to the leading science magazine.

Sellafield is Britain's only source of plutonium, which can remain dangerous for thousands of years.

Worried South Down MP, Eddie McGrady, who has led a long campaign to have the facility closed, last night called for a public inquiry into the recent revelations.

The SDLP man's plea comes after he called for further reductions in discharges in the plant earlier this year.

Mr McGrady also vowed to raise the magazine's claims at Westminster.

Said the MP: "There must be an immediate public inquiry into these latest claims about Sellafield and major public debate about the whole operation of this nuclear plant.

"I am alarmed that this independent report indicates a confirmation of my worst fears about pollution and the effect it could have on people this side of the Irish Sea.

"I can't believe pollution from the plant could have a 10-fold effect in terms of creating cancer and this is something the Government will seriously have to look at.

"The Government has consistently failed to heed my warnings about Sellafield and if these latest revelations prove to be true, they must take responsibility.

"A lot more still needs to be done to ensure that Sellafield is closed down and that the decades of nuclear waste stored there is safely and effectively dealt with."

The South Down MP also called for a start to the run-down of all the processes that take place at the plant.

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