Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to raise the issue of the Sellafield nuclear plant on the west coast of England following fresh anxiety in Ireland in the wake of the partial meltdown of a number of reactors in the northeast of Japan.
Several Irish citizens who were living close to the epicenter of the earthquake in Japan have been found safe and well. However, there has been deep shock in Ireland at the scenes of destruction and heavy loss of life in Japan.
The Irish President Mary McAleese expressed her condolences in the wake of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, which led to the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plants.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are bereaved. We hope that those who have been injured will make a full and speedy recovery.
“As a friend of Japan, Ireland is steadfast in its solidarity with you and your people at this most difficult time,” she said.
Meanwhile, SDLP leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie called for a review of the safety measures surrounding the Sellafield plant in Cumbria, directly across the Irish Sea from Counties Louth and Down.
Managers at the plant, were issued with a formal caution in February over a leak of radioactive liquid.
There have been continuous discharges of nuclear waste into the sea from the plant. These were at their highest in the mid-1970s, leading to a legal action by residents of Dundalk, where a number of serious medical conditions and syndromes have blamed on radioactivity from Sellafield.
Ms Ritchie said a review of safety measures for nuclear power plants, including Sellafield, was necessary.
“Sellafield re-processes much of the world’s nuclear waste and in order to ensure public and environmental safety, I feel that the British Government should revise how safe this plant really is,” she said.
“I will be tabling questions at Westminster calling for clarity on the dangers posed by this station as a matter of urgency.”
Sinn Fein President and Louth TD Gerry Adams also raised the issue of the Sellafield nuclear plant in the Dublin parliament during leaders’ questions this [Tuesday] afternoon.
Deputy Adams asked the Taoiseach to raise the issue of Sellafield with the British government. Mr Kenny agreed to do so.
There was also unanimity in the Dail regarding the suffering of the people in Japan.
“Taimid i Sinn Fein ag smaoineamh faoi mhuintir na tire sin ag an uair millteanach seo,” Mr Adams said. [We in Sinn Fein are thinking of the people of that country at this terrible time].