The town of Newry is being considered as a location to dispose of British nuclear waste in a move which is being met with incredulity in a border town already bracing for the impact of Brexit.
At the moment, thanks to the efforts of environmental campaigners dating from 1978, both parts of Ireland are nuclear free. However, the London government has said it wants just one site for British nuclear waste, and five locations in the north of Ireland are under consideration.
Radioactive waste is currently stored at about 30 sites across Britain, predominantly at ground level at the Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria. Emissions from that extended nuclear complex have in the past been linked high levels of radioactivity in the Irish Sea and clusters of disease in County Louth.
“There are granites and similar strong rocks around Newry, in which we may be able to site a GDF [geological disposal facility],” according to a report for the British state. “We would need to do more work to find out whether these rocks have suitable properties and thicknesses in the depth range of interest for a GDF.”
On Monday, an emergency motion was passed at the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, unanimously opposing locating any nuclear waste facility in the local area.
Sinn Féin MP for South Down Chris Hazzard said Britain could not be allowed to use the North “as a dumping ground” for its hazardous and toxic waste.
“Not only would this have dire consequences for our environment but it would also pose a serious health risk to the population,” he said. “This shows once again the complete and total disregard the British government has for the north of Ireland and its people.”
A petition to ensure the north of Ireland is not used as a dump for British nuclear waste has already been signed by 12,000 people. It can be signed at this web address: https://bit.ly/2BusUSC