Dáil Éireann - Volume 372 - 27 May, 1987

Written Answers. - Chernobyl Disaster.

29. Mr. O'Brien asked the Minister for Energy his reaction to the recent reports on the impact of the Chernobyl disaster in Ireland by the Nuclear Energy Board and other private commentators; the action, if any, he proposes to take on [2887] foot of these report; and the progress which has been made on the emergency plan for nuclear accidents.

55. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Energy if he will make a statement on the recent comments and assessments of the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on Ireland.

Minister for Energy (Mr. R. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 55, together. It is generally accepted now by the experts that the effects of the Chernobyl disaster in Ireland were not serious. The results of the Nuclear Energy Board's monitoring programme for radioactive contamination carried out since the disaster, as outlined in their recently published report “Chernobyl Its Effects On Ireland”, show that, although the levels of radioactivity were for a period higher than normal background levels, they were not hazardous to health. These conclusions are broadly in line with the results of independent studies carried out in Ireland. Nevertheless, the disaster demonstrates the potentially serious and widespread effects which a nuclear accident involving a release of radioactivity can have.

When the accident occurred the Government recognised that the NEB resources were very limited and that the board could not organise our national response to the emergency without considerable help from the universities, Government Departments and other semi-State bodies. The board were granted additional staff and equipment and work is now proceeding towards the development of a new laboratory at Clonskeagh. I generally endorse the conclusions of the NEB report on Chernobyl.

The lessons learned include the need to have an integrated comprehensive environmental monitoring system in operation in order to quickly detect any increases in radioactive contamination, the need to respond quickly to any significant increase and the need to have better communication of information to the public. These and other aspects will [2888] be incorporated into the national emergency plan which is at present at an advanced stage of preparation. I will shortly be submitting the plan to Government for approval.