Dáil Éireann - Volume 494 - 30 September, 1998

Written Answers - Case Against BNFL.

96. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if she will outline the latest position regarding discussions with STAD on the proposed funding by the Government of a High Court case against BNFL; the number of occasions on which the Ministerial Committee on Nuclear Safety has met since its establishment; the membership of the Committee; the decisions, if any, made to date; the work programme for the coming months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17756/98]

119. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the amount paid to date to the County Louth residents in relation to their High Court case against BNFL; if the group has agreed to remove the Irish State as a defendant in its case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17764/98]

265. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the current situation in relation to talks and negotiations between the Louth Residents Group and her Department; and whether agreement has been reached for the support of the case against BNFL seeking the closure of the Sellafield plant. [17480/98]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 96, 119 and 265 together.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the residents have accepted the terms of the Government's offer of assistance towards the cost of research activities being undertaken by them in their legal proceedings against BNFL. To date payments of £76,000 were made to the researchers engaged by the residents.

A further package of assistance covering defined areas of work by the residents' legal team arising from these research activities will be discussed in due course.

It is the Government's desire that the State be removed as a co-defendant in this case and I would aspire towards reaching a stage whereby this could be achieved. However no agreement has been reached on this matter to date.

As to the Ministerial Committee on Nuclear Safety, there have been three meetings since the committee was established in February this year. I am Chairman of the committee and the other members of the committee are: Deputy Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Marine and Natural Resources; Deputy Moffat, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children; Deputy Wallace, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government; Deputy Molloy, Minister of State at [328] the Department of the Environment and Local Government; Deputy O'Donnell, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The committee also includes representatives from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and the Attorney General's office and officials from various Government Departments.

The committee has adopted a work programme encompassing a wide range of nuclear safety and radiological protection issues, including the campaign against Sellafield. A copy of the work programme was made available to a number of Deputies including Deputy Gilmore in June. The main activities under the work programme come within the area of responsibility of my Department and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. However, the broad-based composition of the committee will ensure an effective input, where relevant, of other Government Departments into implementation of the programme.

Over the coming months, in addition to issues directly relating to the Government's ongoing campaign against Sellafield and the UK nuclear industry generally, the committee's work programme will include a review of the National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents; discussion on radon-related matters; issues arising in regard to the County Louth Residents' legal action against British Nuclear Fuels and a review of progress in regard to implementation of the EU Basic Safety Standards Directive on the protection of workers and the general public against the dangers of ionising radiation.