The leader of the tiny UnitedPeople Party, local elections candidate and Drogheda man Jeff Rudd, has told Drogheda Life that he is “deeply alarmed” to learn that the UK Government is considering using areas of the Mourne Mountains/Slieve Gullion as a potential location for the storage of radioactive waste materials.
He is so alarmed that he has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkakr and other government TDs outlining his concerns and asking some very pertinent questions.
“The location is being currently checked out as a potentially suitable location for a "Geological Disposal Facility" (GDF). That's the PR name for a nuclear waste dumping ground” Jeff said, adding that he intends to convene a public meeting on the topic in the near future.
The company carrying out research on possible sites for disposal of nuclear waste throughout the UK is Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) which is a public organisation established by the British government and responsible for planning and delivering geological disposal in the UK.
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On their website RWM states that their vision is “to create a safer future by managing radioactive waste effectively, to protect people and the environment.”
It also says that their work is regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the following agencies:
Drogheda Life contacted RWM and within an hour received a call from a Duncan Flint who said: “RWM are not targeting Newry or anywhere in Northern Ireland for a GDF.”
“Someone, including an SDLP MP, read a geological report in isolation and because it says there is a potential to build the facility there because the geology looks right, they have jumped to the wrong conclusion.
“Without a sitting NI Assembly we cannot progress any siting discussions in NI. In fact, as it stands, it is the least likely place we can build the facility.”
With that the phone line went dead (Mr, Flint was travelling on a train at the time) but shortly afterwards the following statement was received by email from another spokesperson for the organisation, Matthew Winn, who said:
The disposal of radioactive waste for the UK is a devolved matter. At this stage, no host site for a geological disposal facility has been identified and no region is being targeted over another.
Whilst the Northern Ireland Executive has previously supported geological disposal (in 2008 and 2014), any future policy decisions in relation to geological disposal in Northern Ireland remain a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive, which is currently suspended. In the continued absence of the Executive, no further commitments regarding the disposal of Radioactive Waste in Northern Ireland (including Newry), can be given. Accordingly we can confirm that, for the time being at least, we will not pursue a siting process in Northern Ireland.
RWM was asked to carry out a National Geological Screening (NGS) exercise for England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The reports from this exercise were all published simultaneously by RWM in December 2018 and only provide an indication of the potential geological suitability of each region. Not only has the geology got to be suitable for us to site a geological disposal facility, we also have to have the consent of a willing community. Without these two things we cannot go ahead and build the facility.”
Below is the letter that Rudd sent to the Taoiseach:
Dear Mr Varadkar,
I am deeply concerned to hear that a UK government group called "Radioactive Waste Management", is currently checking the granite quality of Mourne Mountains and also Slieve Gullion so that they can import their nuclear waste into Ireland and leave it there for thousands of years to come.
The UK government is already planning to dump 300,000 tonnes of similar waste into the Welsh Severn estuary at a location called Hinkley Point. The flow of this estuary leads back to Ireland's East coast.
The overall picture is that off our coast we will have Sellafield ("Windscale" before the PR job) nuclear facility dumping its pollution outward, we have in Dublin, the Poolbeg incinerator blowing out is burned toxins across the North-East and the dumping of more nuclear waste off our coast. Now, we are possibly getting nuclear waste dumped in mass amounts just across our very border.
Drogheda, Dundalk and frankly, the whole of Louth is centered in the middle of a lot of this. Depending on small quakes, what way a wind might be blowing or sea flowing, we are living in a growing potential lethal "Hot zone" for decades and centuries to come.
- Does our Irish government know about all this?
- If so, why are is it so far, so quiet and not objecting?
- If it doesn't know, why not?
- How does the Irish government feel about Ireland becoming a nuclear waste dumping site?
- What if Ireland becomes united as an island - will we as a nation then be left with nuclear material while the original owner goes away?
- Unexperienced as we are in caring for such, who will take further responsibility within any future Irish government for this care?
This is a very serious matter and I would like to hear your opinion and that of the government.
On behalf of my fellow Louth and countrywide citizens, I request immediate government position clarity on this radioactive issue.
Yours most concerned,
Radioactive Waste Management video: