Written Answers. - Establishment of Waste Management Facility.

Ivor Callely

Question:

92 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the progress on the recommendation to establish a centralised waste management facility as an essential element of food radiological protection practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8915/95]

The storage and disposal of all radioactive waste in Ireland is subject to control by licence under the Radiological Protection Act, 1991 (General Control of Fissile Fuels, Radioactive Substances and Irradiating Apparatus) Order, 1993 (S.I. No. 151 of 1993). These licensing controls are operated by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland.

Radioactive material, in both sealed and unsealed form, is imported for use in industrial, medical and laboratory applications under licence from the institute. At present, all imported sealed radioactive sources must be returned to the original supplier at the end of their useful lives — this is a precondition imposed by the institute prior to the issue of a licence. In relation to unsealed sources and sealed sources imported before the introduction of regulatory controls in 1977, the licencee is obliged to store the waste material safely on his premises until the radioactive content has decayed to levels at which disposal as ordinary domestic waste is permitted.

Inspections of storage of radioactive substances are carried out by the institute. The institute is satisfied that the present arrangements in place ensure that all sources of radioactivity are currently stored in a correct manner which does not pose a hazard to people or the environment.
The institute has recommended the establishment of a centralised waste management facility to cater for long term storage of radioactive wastes from medical, industrial and laboratory sources. My Department is now examining this matter in conjunction with the institute. Such a waste facility would not have any connection with any aspect of radiological protection as it relates to food.