Over 100 years to clean Sellafield


It will take more than 100 years before the toxic nuclear site at Sellafield is safe, it has been revealed.

The UK’s largest atomic power station, overlooking the Irish Sea, will not be completely clean until 2120. A report from Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned that the cost of decommissioning all nuclear plants was likely to rise because successive governments and the industry found it easy to push costs on to future taxpayers.

Anti-Sellafield protester and South Down SDLP MP Eddie McGrady said - “The nuclear waste is a time bomb waiting to happen. They are not only producing - but importing - the dirty stuff from the rest of the world, it is incredible.”

Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is expected to end by 2020, but it will take years for radioactivity levels inside unused reactors to fall to safe limits. The buildings will have to be demolished and the site readied for possible redevelopment.

Martin Forwood, campaign organiser at lobby group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, said he accepted there would be a lengthy delay. “I suspect that they will decommission power stations much quicker than under the original plan” - he said. “The French or the Japanese think they can do it in 40-50 years.”

He admitted the clean-up operation would take decades.

A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd said - “Sellafield isn’t a place that can just be closed down. It is about the removal of plant and equipment from the building, it is about decontaminating and knocking them down - that takes decades.

“A lot of work has been done - but, with a site as complex as Sellafield, that will take a long time to do carefully and safely, which is the priority and can’t be compromised on.”