Northern Ireland

Ritchie calls for Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant safety review

Sellafield
Image caption Sellafield was built directly across the Irish Sea from Northern Ireland

SDLP leader and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has called for a review of the safety measures surrounding the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

Sellafield was built on the Cumbria coast directly across the Irish Sea from Northern Ireland.

Managers at the plant, were issued with a formal caution in February over a leak of radioactive liquid.

The Environment Agency said the leak, which was reported in January 2009, caused no impact on the environment.

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."

Her comments follow a series of explosions at a Japanese nuclear plant hit by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami which has sparked new fears about the safety of nuclear power across the globe.

Japanese officials have said radiation from the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has reached harmful levels.

The Swiss government has reacted to the Japanese disaster by suspending plans to build and replace nuclear plants.

In Germany anti-nuclear activists have been protesting at the country's nuclear installations and the government has temporarily shut down seven of its nuclear power plants while it reconsiders its nuclear strategy.

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