Thorp is set to close – but its legacy will live on in Ireland and the UK

Thorp is set to close – but its legacy will live on in Ireland and the UK

In 2018, the Thorp nuclear plant should hopefully cease reprocessing activities prior to decommissioning. Whilst it’s good news that this massive polluter looks set to close, the radioactive waste produced by Thorp and nuclear plant Sellafield (Windscale) will last well beyond our lifetimes.

A Thorp spokesman has said the decision to close was due to falling demand for reprocessing and the relatively low cost of uranium. If Thorp was to continue running beyond 2018 it would require a multi-billion pound upgrade and thankfully there seem to be no plans to do so. There will still be 800 workers based in the area after Thorp closes, and they will be found work elsewhere at the Sellafield plant.

For years, spent nuclear fuels from throughout Europe have been stored at Sellafield before being reprocessed at Thorp, making it the biggest nuclear reprocessor in Europe. All great news for the people at Thorp but not for the folks in Ireland or in the UK who live with the aftermath of the silent pollution it causes.

For years, this whole operation, based in Cumbria in the UK has been a bone of contention, especially for the Irish, who get all of the pollution and none of the benefit. It has been suggested that deformed foetuses, irregular births and a spark in leukemia rates around UK town Cumbria and in some Eastern counties of Ireland are all connected to Sellafield/Thorp. Stories of workers at the plant suffering from fertility  issues and other complaints arise from time to time, before mysteriously dissappearing from the news.

Radioactive sea spray, contaminated fish and an environmental catastrophe in the form of leaking barrels of radioactive waste are all part and parcel of the Irish Sea. Radioactive pollution takes years to break down, so all of this is set to cause many problems in future, especially as containing this waste properly has always been a low priority. This is just one story of environmental injustice in a world filled with them. What a pity greed and profit come so frequently before the needs of the planet and the rights of people. Until this changes, situations like Thorp/Sellafield are set to continue.
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