Ali Takes on Sellafield

Bono with his wife Ali Hewson.

By Irish America Staff
June / July 2002

Bono isn’t the only activist in his family. For some time now, his wife Ali has helped campaigner Adi Roche with the Irish-based Chernobyl Children’s Project, which was founded to help the thousands of children whose lives were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia.

Ali is currently campaigning to have the British nuclear plant, Sellafield, which is only 120 miles from Dublin and 60 miles from the Co. Louth coast, shut down. According to a piece she wrote in the Irish Examiner newspaper, Sellafield pumps two million gallons of low-level waste into the Irish Sea every day and releases radioactive gases into the atmosphere. She’s also concerned that a terrorist attack on the plant, which contains huge amounts of plutonium, would be a disaster of monumental proportions.

“I became concerned about Sellafield when I had my first babies,” she wrote in the Examiner. I started to wonder how safe it was for them to play on the beach, to swim in the sea. Could I safely give them fish from the Irish Sea to eat?”

A campaign organized by Ali and the Shut Sellafield group is sending cards to all Irish homes, pre-stamped and addressed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, urging him to take prompt action against Sellafield. Extra cards addressed with the same message to be sent to noted environmentalist Prince Charles and the chief of British Nuclear Fuels are also available to buy in Irish stores.

In campaigning against Sellafield, Ali has the support of the Irish government, which took Britain to a UN Law of the Sea Tribunal last December to try and get the plant closed down. While Ireland lost that fight, the Court did make a ruling that Ireland had a right under International Law to be involved in developments at Sellafield that would have an effect on the Irish Sea, as well as to devise measures to prevent marine pollution. ♦

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