Eleven Irish arrested at Sellafield protest


Eleven Irish people were arrested today at a protest outside the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria.

More than 170 Irish protestors began a peaceful blockade of the nuclear facility organised by Globalise Resistance and Gluaiseacht.

Five women and six men are currently being questioned at Workington Police Station in Cumbria.

Protestors confirmed to Ireland.comthat a formal protest is being lodged against the allegedly "heavy-handed" approach of the police. A number of protesters claimed they were struck by police.

Superintendent Steve Turnbull, for West Cumbria, denied those allegations. He said the protestors had altered tactics and recklessly blockaded the main road in the region, causing "horrendous problems".

"The general public were brought into today’s protests. Schools couldn’t open, trains didn’t run because staff couldn’t get through and we have been flooded with complaints about their action. Workers travelling to and from Sellafield were also delayed in tailbacks on the A595.

"We agree that the protestors are able to exercise their legitimate right to protest, and to also ensure operations at Sellafield are not disrupted by the protests."

Today’s action is part of an ongoing protest by Irish student groups against the commissioning last December of the mixed oxide (MOX) plant at Sellafield which recycles used uranium and plutonium.

Separately, the British government this afternoon published an "Energy Review" study to plan for the country’s energy systems over the next 50 years.

Published by the Performance and Innovation Unit, the report says the option of "new investment in nuclear power needs to be kept open" in the context of moving to low carbon power generation techniques.

Legal action taken last year by the Irish Government failed to reverse the decision to open the MOX plant.

Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have continually stated that MOX production at Sellafield is environmentally damaging and financially risky.