Written Answers. - Government Nuclear Policy.

Dermot Ahern

Question:

333 Mr. D. Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment the number of times the Government sub-committee on the nuclear industry has met; the action, if any, that has been taken on foot of any of its recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16399/96]

Noel Dempsey

Question:

372 Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment the dates of each meeting of the ministerial group on Sellafield; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16943/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 333 and 372 together.

I refer to my replies to Questions Nos. 2 and 40 of 13 June 1996 and 388 of 25 July 1996, and the reply of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications to Questions Nos. 30, 402 and 403 of 2 July 1996. These set out the position on the matters being pursued by Departments concerned within the remit of the ministerial committee on Sellafield and the Irish Sea. The committee met on 26 April 31 May and 13 September 1995 and established the parameters for the on-going work of Ministers and their Departments on commitments in the programme A Government of Renewal.
Areas in which there have been development since the replies previously mentioned include a Department of Transport. Energy and Communications request that the EU Commission carry out inspections and verification of the radioactive monitoring facilities of Magnox reactors in the UK under Article 35 of the EURATOM Treaty to ensure that they are in compliance with EU standards; the submission by the Irish delegation at the current Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) of a discussion document on the possibility of strengthening nuclear safety provisions of the EURATOM Treaty in the context of the further enlargement of the Union: raising Ireland's concerns in relation to nuclear power and, in particular, the safety of the British nuclear industry and the reprocessing of, and transport and storage of nuclear materials, at the IAEA Annual General Conference, held in Vienna from 16-20 September 1996. Ireland has urged that the entire question of reprocessing and management of surplus plutonium stocks should be examined urgently; requests to the Oslo/Paris Commissions and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD for a thorough technical review and assessment of both the reprocessing and non-reprocessing options for spent nuclear fuel management, as well as their impact on radioactive discharges into the marine environment; work is under way on these matters; Ireland's ratification of the Nuclear Safety Convention in July 1996 and our efforts to have all member states of the EU and the International Atomic Energy Agency do so as soon as possible and the active promotion by Ireland of a new global convention on radioactive waste management on which negotiations are proceeding in Vienna.
Detailed consideration has been given to the possibilities for legal action against the Sellafield/Thorp facilities and the position remains under review. At present, a judgement which may be significant in this regard is awaited from the Supreme Court in the case brought by four Dundalk residents in their action against BNFL. Consideration is being given to the scope for action under the Paris Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land Based Sources and the more recent Ospar Convention which Ireland intends to ratify later this year.