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How has the Irish Sea become the most polluted sea in the world?
Sellafield is on the English coast, to the east of the Isle of Man.
The answer lies in the north west of England, where the Sellafield site has poured millions of tonnes of nuclear waste into the sea since the 1950s. Like the history of nuclear power plants around the world, its history is one of spills, accidents, poor regulation and cover-ups.
In this interview, we talk to one of Sellafield’s long-time critics, Mark Dearey.
If we view Britain’s nuclear power programme as part of its military complex, it becomes easier to understand how the activities in Sellafield and elsewhere have run unchecked for so long. Even today, as Mark points out, the British nuclear industry enjoys the most advantageous institutional context in the world when it comes to planning, fast-tracking and government support.
As for Ireland, where energy policy is short-sighted, disorganised and expensive, is there a prospect of going for nuclear as a way of meeting carbon emissions targets?
Mark also addresses the problems of bringing green policies into effect in democratic systems.
There’s a massive risk that authoritarianism could creep into green politics globally.
As an environmental activist, and until recently a local politician, Mark has been a leading voice of protest about pollution from the Sellafield site. He was one of a group of four plaintiffs from the Dundalk region who brought landmark court cases against the British nuclear industry in the 1990s. Since then, he has been an authoritative voice on energy issues on the Irish scene. He knows the nuclear arguments well, from both sides of the debate, and argues that nuclear energy’s true cost is never calculated by its supporters.