Dáil Éireann - Volume 618 - 03 May, 2006
Written Answers. - Nuclear Safety.
Mr. O’Connor Mr. O’Connor
Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will report on his continued efforts to deal with the threat of Sellafield; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16312/06]
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
 Mr. Roche:The Government’s international legal proceedings against the United Kingdom under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in relation to the Sellafield Mox Plant were suspended in 2003 pending resolution of jurisdictional issues in the dispute raised by the European Commission.
These issues were the subject of proceedings by the European Commission against Ireland before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The Advocate General’s Opinion issued in the case on 18 January last considers that the ECJ has competence in relation to the dispute between Ireland and the UK. While this Opinion favours the case made by the Commission, it will be a matter for the Court to issue the final judgment which is expected on 30 May next. The final outcome should clarify international and community law in relation to the protection of the marine environment and other issues raised by the continued operation of the Sellafield Reprocessing Plant. The Government, in consultation with the Attorney General, will decide future legal strategy based on the final judgment of the ECJ case.
On the diplomatic front, I met with Alan Johnson MP, UK Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry in October to voice the continuing concerns of the Irish Government in relation to the operation of the Sellafield Plant and the leak in April 2005 at the THORP Plant. I pointed out that the report by the operator on the leak at THORP indicated a continuing poor safety culture and practice at the Sellafield Plant and that it was necessary for the UK Government to take the hard decisions necessary to close the Sellafield Plant. I also met with the EU Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs and the Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini on 31 January last and made it clear that the Irish Government expects the Commission to exercise its competence robustly in respect of the continued operations at Sellafield, a situation which has in Ireland’s view, clearly not been the case to date. Following these meetings, both the Commission and the UK Government are in no doubt as to the strength of Irish feeling regarding the continued operation of the Sellafield plant.
This Government will continue to pursue all legal, political and diplomatic options to secure the safe and orderly closure of the Sellafield facility. I consider that the current legal and diplomatic initiative by the Government in relation to Sellafield has resulted in increasing recognition by the UK Government and its Agencies of the priority accorded to the issue of Sellafield by the Irish Government.
Dáil Éireann 618 Written Answers. Nuclear Safety.