Maria Daly, Athlone Advertiser, September 20, 2006
People living in Athlone could face compulsary resettlement if a Chernobyl-like nuclear explosion was to happen in the Welsh nuclear power plant of Wylfa.
The new fallout maps were created for a conference by the Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities Forum (NFLA). The conference will take place in the D Hotel, Drogheda, on Saturday September 30. The conference will be hosted by Cllr Michael O’Dowd and will cover such issues as the health consequences for Ireland of a major nuclear accident. Speakers on the day will include Pete Roche who is a nuclear policy consultant, Dylan Morgan of People Against Wylfa B, and Rite Holmes who is a member of the Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group.
The British government are currently looking at the possiblility of building a nuclear power plant at either Wylfa in Wales, Hunterston in Scotland, or Sellafield in England. If there was a nuclear fallout in any of the proposed sites and south easterly winds were prevailing, Athlone and the Midlands would be under serious threat of contamination.
The NFLA has released a map which shows the fallout area that would follow an accident at the nuclear reactor in Wylfa if easterly winds carried fallout across to Ireland. Large areas of central and southern Ireland would become so contaminated that there would be cause for evacuation. The NFLA has based its maps on the fallout from the Chernobyl reactor accident which happened some 20 years ago.
The NFLA has released a document called ‘Our Energy Challenge,’ a Response to the UK Department of Trade and Industry Energy review, in which it says; “The impact of accidents involving nuclear reactors can cross international frontiers and affect the legitimate interests of neighbouring states which do not themselves have nuclear programmes, possibly causing serious long term damage to the environment and threatening the health and safety of their populations.”
The maps show three main zones which would be created after a Chernobyl-type accident. The fallout zones are classed as: compulsory resettlement, assisted resettlement, and areas under strict radiological control. The Midlands are classed as compulsory resettlement areas and assisted resettlement areas, meaning that more than half the population might have to be resettled if an accident occurred at the Wylfa nuclear power plant which is located on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales.
The NFLA believes that “the shared use of the Irish Sea and the history of discharges into it give the people of Ireland a legitimate interest in any future nuclear developments on the north west coast of the UK.” In the document the NFLA says that the UK government need to realise that if they decide to build new nuclear power stations they must consider the risks they would pose to the people of Ireland. “Ireland would face risks in the event of an accident involving a nuclear power station in the UK and has had to face the consequences of radioactive contamination in the Irish Sea resulting from the activities of the UK nuclear power stations.”