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Shut Sellafield nuclear plant, Irish PM Ahern says

DUBLIN, March 4 (Reuters) - Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has called for the closure of Britain's Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant amid mounting concern about safety at the facility which lies just over the Irish Sea.

``Enough is enough...We want to see an end to Sellafield operations,'' Ahern said at the opening of a conference of his Fianna Fail party late on Friday.

Ahern said his government would continue to exert as much pressure as possible to close the plant.

A report from Britain's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate last month criticised state-owned British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, which operates Sellafield, for ``systematic management failure.''

The report, which led to the departure of BNFL chief executive John Taylor, said management failure had allowed staff to falsify quality control measures on several batches of nuclear fuel. The report angered Japanese and German customers and raised broader concerns about the plant's safety.

Earlier this week, Ireland said it may take legal action in an attempt to force the closure of the plant in northwest England.

Joe Jacob, a minister at the Department of Public Enterprise, met British Energy Minister Helen Liddell on Wednesday to set out Irish concerns over safety at the plant. Jacob said the Irish government might take the case to the European Court.

06:56 03-04-00

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-- Martin Thompson (, March 04, 2000

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