April 2002

Ali Hewson delivers her card in person to Tony Blair

BBC Online, April 26, 2002

[Posted 29/04/2002]

The wife of U2 singer Bono, Ali Hewson, has gone to Downing Street to protest personally against the operation of Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria.

The anti-nuclear campaigner was highlighting a mail-out of 1.3 million protest postcards calling for the plant in Cumbria to be closed.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Prince of Wales are among recipients of the cards which highlight fears in the Irish Republic about alleged pollution risks from Sellafield.

But Mrs Hewson wanted to deliver her card in person to Mr Blair.

Bono and his wife are against Sellafield

The card has the message: "Tony, look me in the eye and tell me I'm safe."

The campaign is also being supported by The Corrs, Ronan Keating, Samantha Mumba, and Manchester United FC captain Roy Keane.

Mrs Hewson said: "There's millions of people in Britain who live as close to Sellafield as we do and the risks are great.

"A report commissioned by the European parliament has said Sellafield has the potential to be 80 times more hazardous than Chernobyl," she said.

'Important contribution'

But Energy Minister Brian Wilson said closing the plant would be irresponsible as it made an important contribution in the fight against global warming and climate change.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland said the small amounts of radioactivity discharged from UK nuclear sites "do not pose a significant health risk to people living in Ireland", Mr Wilson added.

He also reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring the Sellafield nuclear site would be run to the highest standards of safety and environmental protection.

Sellafield has provoked angry reactions in Ireland

"The UK Government would not pursue any course of action that is damaging either to our own people or to our neighbours in Ireland."

Norman Askew, chairman of British Nuclear Fuels which operates Sellafield, has also been targeted by the campaign, which is backed by the Irish Government.

Postcards sent to him read: "You know that radiation released into the atmosphere has no borders ... No country, no government and no company can afford this risk for profit."

Protests at plant

A series of protests over the reprocessing of nuclear fuel have been held outside Sellafield, which have been attended by some Irish members of parliament.

The plant is on the Cumbrian coast of north-west England, 110 miles (180 kilometres) from Ireland.

Postcards were delivered to homes throughout Ireland and people were urged to sign and return them. They have also been on sale in shops and post offices.

The expected delivery date of the cards, 26 April, was chosen to coincide with the 16th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Card to prince

Radioactive contamination from the world's worst civil nuclear disaster was blamed for thousands of deaths in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and a huge increase in thyroid cancer.

Prince Charles, known for his interest in environmental issues, will receive a card depicting Ireland ravaged by nuclear fallout.

Its messages read: "Greetings from Ireland" and "Charles - wish you were here?"

The commissioning of a new Mixed Oxide (MOX) reprocessing facility at the end of 2001 caused outrage in the Irish Republic.

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