Ireland presses UK to reduce Sellafield emissions

The Environment Agency for England and Wales' proposals to reduce emissions from the Sellafield nuclear re-procession plant fail to live up to commitments made by the UK at last year's OSPAR meeting in Portugal, said Joe Jacob, T.D., Irish Minister with responsibility for Nuclear Safety, at the first meeting of OSPAR Working Group on radioactive substances at Dublin Castle this week.

In his opening address Jacob reminded delegates of the Strategy on Radioactive Substances adopted at the OSPAR Meeting in Portugal last July.

The Strategy commits OSPAR Member Countries to achieving reductions of radioactive discharges into the marine environment to zero limits by the year 2020.

On the question of Sellafield the Minister pointed out that successive Irish Governments had campaigned vigorously for an end to radioactive discharges from Sellafield into the Irish Sea.

“On behalf of the Irish Government and of the Irish people I shall continue this campaign” said Mr. Jacob. “In this context, it is heartening to note the general shift in opinion on nuclear power. The tide of public opinion in Europe has moved against nuclear power and Governments are becoming more sensitive to the voice of the people” he added.

UK Ministers are at present considering proposals from the UK Environment Agency in regard to a variation in the liquid and gaseous radioactive discharge limits in respect of Sellafield and also in relation to the commissioning of the Sellafield MOX plant.

“I wish to remind delegates that UK Ministers gave a commitment at the OSPAR Meeting last July to take account of the concerns of Ireland and of other countries in their forthcoming decisions on discharge authorisations for the Sellafield plant. It is my firm view that the UK Ministers’ commitments represented a recognition of the need to achieve dramatic reductions in technetium-99 discharges in the immediate future. Therefore, I do not regard the current proposals from the UK’s Environment Agency as a reflection of this commitment” stated Minister Jacob.

In conclusion, he urged the UK Government to ensure its final decision “reflects the spirit of their commitments given at OSPAR as opposed to the thinking of the UK’s Environment Agency.”

Last week, Jacob welcomed the German Government’s decision to stop sending spend fuel for reprocessing at Sellafield (see related article) as “clearly good news for Ireland”.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie