A CONCERNED environmental group set up camp outside a nuclear laundry yesterday, calling for the county council to put the business under closer scrutiny.

Campaigners from Radiation Free Lakeland organised the protest after Energy Coast Laundry recently submitted a planning application that would bring it in line with planning rules, despite running as a nuclear laundry since November 2018.

Allerdale Council has launched a consultation into the plans, which closes on August 15.

The five-strong group protested for an hour, holding signs that expressed their concern for the local area, and the planet as a whole, pushing Allerdale council to “not simply rubber-stamp the application”, and give the community their chance to vote against the washing of nuclear laundry in their town.

“This protest was a spur of the moment idea, born from sheer anger and frustration at the situation,” Radiation Free Lakeland member, Marianne Birkby explained.

“We’ve brought crime scene tape to tie to the fence, because if this was a conservatory that had been built without permission everyone would be up in arms!”

The group wants the nuclear laundry, that washes Sellafield clothes “to be halted as a matter of urgency”, believing that the plant should use its own on-site laundry, and “leave the public water supply alone”.

Those who run the Lillyhall laundry have moved to reassure the public, insisting that they deal only with “non-active” basic clothing worn by Sellafield workers and contractors, and that all workwear is scanned and declared safe before leaving the nuclear plant.

A spokesman for Energy Coast Laundry said: "We are operating as a laundry, washing the non-active basic clothing worn by Sellafield workers and contractors on site. 

"We have a valid Environment Agency permit, and we are rigorously tested every day to ensure our processes meet the highest standards as would be expected by any unit operating in this sector.

"We work hard to ensure we maintain these standards of compliance and safety to ensure the safety of our staff and the local community in which we are situated.”

But the demonstrators aren’t appeased by this, and feel that Sellafield’s laundry should “stay within the site’s boundaries”.

Fiona Heslan, a protestor and concerned Bridgefoot resident, said: “I’m just intrigued as to how such a regulated industry can have operated for so long without scrutiny. [Sellafield] seem to think they can do what they want – we should have asked a lot more questions a lot sooner.”