A SECOND nuclear power plant is to be built at the controversial Sellafield site in Cumbria as the UK government presses ahead with the biggest nuclear programme for a generation.
New reactors are planned for eight different sites, including Sellafield, which is less than 160km from the Irish coast.
The announcement was made by Chris Huhne, the Britain's Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary -- despite his own opposition to nuclear energy.
It sparked new concerns last night from the Government. Environment Minister Phil Hogan said they were very concerned about the UK's new facilities, particularly in relation to the "cumulative effects of so many nuclear facilities in Cumbria".
The minister said these concerns involved radioactive discharges to the Irish Sea and emergency planning for the Sellafield facilities.
Mr Hogan said the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland had been asked to carry out an independent safety assessment of the proposed new facilities and this was due to be completed by the autumn.
As well as Sellafield, another seven sites have been earmarked for nuclear plants, including Wylfa, in Wales, also relatively close to the Irish coast.
The UK announcement backing nuclear power development and the creation of eight new plants on existing sites comes just three months after the Fukushima plant disaster in Japan.
As well as nuclear reprocessing, Sellafield has the largest inventory of radioactive waste anywhere in Europe.
Some of this waste is stored in ageing facilities acknowledged by the UK authorities to require active hazard reduction programmes. However, the new plant will create nuclear power on the existing site.
Fianna Fail environment spokesperson Niall Collins TD called on the minister to telephone his UK counterpart Chris Huhne MP and express the deep opposition and anger of the Irish people towards this new development.
Friends of the Earth said the UK's energy needs could be met through clean renewable power.
As well as Sellafield, the seven sites in the UK where the new facilities will be built are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.