Dáil Éireann - Volume 369 - 22 October, 1986
Written Answers. - Nuclear Safety.
Mr. Haughey Mr. Haughey
19. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Energy if he is aware that the action plan for nuclear safety adopted by the European Commission does not provide for a Community Inspectorate; and if he  will now raise the issue of the danger that Sellafield represents to the health and safety of the people on this island bilaterally with the British Government.
Mr. O.J. Flanagan Mr. O.J. Flanagan
25. Mr. O.J. Flanagan asked the Minister for Energy if he will renew representations to the British Government to end all dumping of waste from Sellafield into the Irish Sea; if in view of the recent conditions in Sellafield he will now ask that this imminent danger to this country will be closed down; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Reynolds Mr. Reynolds
28. Mr. Reynolds asked the Minister for Energy the progress, if any, which has been made to establish an EC inspection and monitoring force to ensure that effective safety standards are being applied at the Sellafield Nuclear Plant, in view of the continuing bad record of accidents there; and if he has taken any steps to raise this potential danger to our people and our environment at the International Atomic Agency.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Spring) Dick Spring
Minister for Energy (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 25 and 28 together.
In relation to a Community inspection force the Commission in a communication to the Council dated 20 August 1986 stated, among other things, that if a system of Community checks were established it could operate selectively in order to ascertain the effects of national practices on safety standards and that by focusing on particular installations the Commission could be in a position to advise member states independently of the national inspectorates. The Commission indicated that this was one of the ideas they would be exploring.
The question of a Community inspection force is currently under discussion in a Council working group and Ireland is pressing to have it put on the agenda for the next Council of Energy Ministers which is expected to take place towards the end of November.
Every opportunity has been taken to express our concerns about Sellafield to the UK authorities. I have explained to  this House on a number of occasions that the Government are totally opposed to any discharge of radioactive waste from Sellafield into the Irish Sea and want to see these discharges minimised and eliminated as soon as possible using the best available technology. Furthermore, the frequency of incidents at Sellafield has caused a loss of confidence in the operation of the plant. The view of the Government is that this is an international rather than a bilateral issue and that it should be resolved under the provisions of the Euratom Treaty. The Government consider that a European inspection force is necessary to determine independently whether Sellafield can operate safely or whether operations should be suspended or cease until it can be rendered totally safe.
The Government have been called upon from time to time to demand the closure of the Sellafield plant. As I have previously stated, the question of closure is not a simple matter. There is already a large quantity of spent fuel for reprocessing stored at Sellafield. This would continue to require attention and management even if further reprocessing were discontinued.
Ireland took the opportunity to raise the question of an international nuclear inspection force at the IAEA Conference in Vienna in September-October 1986. We called upon nuclear countries to implement their programmes in conformity with the highest possible levels of safety and contended that fulfilment of this obligation would require the establishment of an international nuclear safety inspectorate.
Dáil Éireann 369 Written Answers. Nuclear Safety.