Sellafield: controversial

AN Oxford physics professor who has written a book on unwarranted fears surrounding nuclear power and radiation says Irish people have no cause to fear the Sellafield power plant.

Professor Wade Allison says a person would have to stand in the waste hall of the power plant for a million hours to get the same level of exposure as a single session of radiotherapy treatment.

He is the latest voice to play down concerns that 'cancer clusters' in Ireland could be formed as a result of the controversial facility.

Last month, the head of Ireland's National Cancer Registry (NCR) Dr Harry Comber also ruled out any link after a high proportion of stomach cancer cases were found to be located in the north east of the country, a region with long-held concerns surrounding Sellafield.

The recently launched Atlas of Cancer in Ireland revealed cancer rates for north Co Dublin, Louth, Monaghan and Cavan were some 50% higher than the national average but a link to the controversial station in Cumbria was ruled out.

Professor Allison, author of Radiation and Reason said: "No it isn't [a threat]. It's not my point of view; I am a scientist – I don't have a view or an opinion, I just look at what the data says."

Professor Allison said that an unwarranted culture of fear has emerged surrounding the safety of radiation. "People go around looking for cancer clusters from mobile phones; it's very dangerous looking at tea leaves," he said.

"It's true that radiation can cause cancer but only at levels that are thousands of times higher than what you would get at Sellafield."