Dáil Éireann - Volume 411 - 31 October, 1991

Written Answers. - Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant.

[2321] 81. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Energy the current position on his efforts to obtain support from the EC in relation to the Irish Government's and the general public concern over the activity and proposed developments at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): Ireland has always been consistently active at EC level in the area of nuclear safety and we have continued to press for the acceptance of internationally recognised minimum safety standards by all nuclear power countries because of the transboundary implications of nuclear accidents. We have long called for an inspection force within the European Community which would be independent of national authorities and would examine all safety aspects of the nuclear industry.

At the Energy Council meeting during the Irish Presidency in 1990 I ensured that the Council was fully informed of Ireland's views on nuclear safety and related issues. At that meeting Ireland expressed its continued opposition to reprocessing at the Sellafield plant and requested that discharges into the environment should cease through closure of the plant. I have also ensured that every opportunity was taken by other Ministers, by officials of my Department and officials of other Departments to raise our strongest objections on this matter at EC and other appropriate meetings.

In response to Irish and other pressures, the Commission announced last year a reintroduction, after a 20 year gap, of inspection of radiation monitoring facilities under Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty. While this does not go as far as we would wish, it is nevertheless a step in the right direction so far as Ireland's policy in this area is concerned.

I shall continue to press for an inspection force to examine all aspects of the nuclear industry in the EC and I shall continue to seek the closure of Sellafield. As recently as Tuesday last at the EC [2322] Energy Council I placed our insistence on the required inspectorate before the Community's Energy Ministers and stated that I would continue to do so until Ireland got a satisfactory response to our legitimate concerns.