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Written Answers. - Nuclear Plants.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 466. Mr. Crowe Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe  asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen  the steps his Department is taking to remove the real threat of the Sellafield nuclear plant to the people of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23425/02]

[326]Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen The Irish Government has taken, and will continue to take, a pro-active role in campaigning against reprocessing operations at Sellafield. An Agreed Programme for Government has stated clearly that we regard the continued existence of Sellafield as an unacceptable threat to Ireland; that it should be closed, and that we will use every diplomatic and legal route available to us to work towards the removal of this threat.

The Government has taken an unprecedented initiative in pursuit of this policy objective through its separate legal actions under the OSPAR and UNCLOS Conventions in relation to the Sellafield MOX plant. These actions are proceeding on schedule and are challenging operations at the Sellafield MOX plant on economic, legal, environmental and safety grounds. In relation to the OSPAR case, oral hearings took place before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in October last but a determination in the case is not expected until early in the new year. Oral hearings in respect of the UNCLOS case are expected to take place in the summer of 2003. The Government has not ruled out taking further legal action as appropriate.

In addition, this Government has developed a strong and constructive campaign against nuclear energy in general, and against activities at Sellafield in particular, that focuses clearly on the threat to Ireland from these activities based on genuine concerns regarding safety, security and sustainability.

It is for this reason that in international institutions and other multilateral fora, Ireland is actively advocating for the highest possible standards of safety as well as health and environmental protection.

Ireland has also responded critically to various UK public consultation processes concerning the regulation of the UK nuclear industry covering such matters as the management of radioactive waste in the UK, a review of UK energy policy and the UK strategy for discharges from nuclear installations.

The Government has repeatedly pointed out that the risks and unresolved problems associated with the nuclear energy industry, when added to the high research and capital costs, including decommissioning costs, as well as continued additional safety and security costs, mean that nuclear energy is not sustainable.

The significant recorded financial losses of British Nuclear Fuels and the financial situation at British Energy further underscore our position that nuclear energy is not economically viable.

I can assure the Deputy that the approach outlined will be pursued vigorously and that any further opportunities to press our case will be exercised in full.

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