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Crisis-hit Sellafield 'is more dangerous than Chernobyl'

THE massive nuclear complex at Sellafield is "in crisis" and holds the world's biggest stockpile of spent nuclear fuel which has the potential to be "more dangerous" than the Chernobyl reactor, a new report claims.

And the UK is unlikely to meet its international commitments to reduce radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea because the plant is not working properly.

The report -- "Voodoo Economics and the Doomed Nuclear Renaissance" commissioned by Friends of the Earth -- says the deadline for closing the reprocessing facility has been abandoned and the plant will remain open until 2015.

It also claims storage tanks containing nuclear fuel are "vulnerable to terrorist attacks" and "contain far more dangerous radioactivity than the Chernobyl reactor". The report also alleges that accidents and technical and management problems have put the plant in "crisis".

Friends of the Earth director Oisin Coghlan said the report endorsed the case made by Ireland for the plant to be closed down. "The Irish Government has a strong position, and it's hoped this report will be another tool at its disposal. Building new nuclear plants doesn't make economic sense."

But last night a spokesman for Sellafield said the buildings housing radioactive material at the plant were designed to give an "inherently higher level of protection" against terrorist attack. And Environment Minister John Gormley said there was "a much improved level of cooperation with the UK authorities" on nuclear safety.

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