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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 22:13 GMT
Irish politicians unite in Sellafield row
Sellafield plant, Cumbria
Highly radioactive material is stored at Sellafield
Politicians from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have asked for a meeting with British government officials about the Sellafield Nuclear Plant in Cumbria.

It follows a visit to the site by members of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body on Monday.

Sellafield has long been a controversial issue between the British and Irish governments.

The West Tyrone assembly member, Barry McElduff, was among the politicans who visited the plant.


There is consensus north and south of the border about the potential disaster that looms for Ireland as a whole if there was to be an accident or an attack on Sellafield

Barry McElduff MLA

Mr McElduff said he did not want the MOX plant to get off the ground "properly" then said.

"There is consensus north and south of the border about the potential disaster that looms for Ireland as a whole if there was to be an accident or an attack on Sellafield," he said.

The Dublin administration had wanted the UK to block the 470m mixed-oxide (Mox) fuel development just across the sea, claiming it would break international laws on sea pollution.

Sabotage threat

It also claimed the BNFL plant posed safety and security risks, which have been heightened since 11 September.

But a United Nations maritime tribunal rejected the challenge to the plant, which will turn useless plutonium and uranium into a powerful energy source.

Last week, John Clarke, BNFL's head of environment, health, safety and quality at Sellafield, attempted to reassure the Irish at a special conference on security.

Mr Clarke said BNFL had re-examined its safety arrangements and was satisfied that storage facilities would remain intact in the event of a deliberate commercial aircraft crash.

The Ministry of Defence is understood to have plans in place to deal with terrorist action at Sellafield.

It has declined to comment on security matters.

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