clamp prevents assessment of Sellafield risk
Irish Independent, June 24, 2002
By Treacy Hogan, Environment Correspondent
Original address: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=777446&issue_id=7622
THE Irish Radiological Protection Institute is unable to assess claims
by the UK authorities about anti-terrorist security at Sellafield because
of a clampdown on sensitive information, it has been learned.
The State body told the Environment Department that briefings by British
Nuclear Fuels Ltd and the UK's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate did
not provide it with enough details - with the result that it cannot
evaluate British conclusions that stringent security precautions are
being taken to protect nuclear sites from air attacks.
BNFL has insisted that highly radioactive liquid storage tanks at Sellafield
can withstand a large plane being deliberately crashing into them.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister Martin Cullen has
revealed that the issue of security at Sellafield was raised at a meeting
between the NII and RPII, but the NII's chief inspector indicated that
he was under instructions not to discuss these arrangements.
The RPII had also met the BNFL in Dublin, at which the nuclear company
assured the institute that the high-level, radioactive liquid waste
storage tanks at Sellafield were strong enough to withstand an attack
by a large aircraft.
The minister said the UK's Office For Civil Nuclear Security had reported
stringent security precautions were being taken to protect civil nuclear
sites, commensurate with current threats.
"However, the RPII advised my department that due to UK security
restrictions, neither BNFL nor NII briefings nor the OCNS report provide
sufficient technical detail to enable the RPII evaluate these conclusions,"
Mr Cullen added.
Following approaches by his department to the UK authorities seeking
information "on the consequences of a major terrorist attack on
Sellafield," a meeting was offered between the director of the
Office for Civil Nuclear Security and the RPII. This will be held next
month and will also involve department officials, Mr Cullen disclosed.
In conveying this offer the UK trade department had said that it was
not in a position to provide details of security measures being taken
at nuclear sites, as it was not government policy to disclose such details.
Mr Cullen added that when the Irish Embassy in London
contacted relevant UK departments after the September 11 attacks to
find out what security measures were in place at nuclear installations
it, too, was told it was not government policy to disclose such details.