Written Answers. - Sellafield Reprocessing Plant.

Ivan Yates

Question:

55 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the EU General Affairs Council has, over the past 12 months, considered the issues surrounding the proposed extension of activities at Sellafield; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22074/98]

The General Affairs Council has not discussed matters relating to Sellafield over the past 12 months.

With regard to the proposed extension of activities at Sellafield, the UK Environment Agency recently announced its proposed decision concerning the commissioning and operation of the mixed oxide, MOX, fuel fabrication plant. The agency has referred its proposed decision to the UK Ministers for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for their consideration as to whether they wish to direct the agency to make a different decision or to issue further policy guidance to the agency. As the Deputy is no doubt aware, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise, Deputy Jacob, has responsibility for matters concerning energy and nuclear safety. Deputy Jacob chairs the ministerial committee on nuclear safety, which takes a particular interest in Sellafield.

Deputy Jacob has availed of every opportunity to bring to the attention of the UK authorities the Government's concerns about Sellafield. In the context of two periods of consultation undertaken by the UK Environment Agency during 1997 and 1998 in regard to the proposed MOX plant, his Department made two submissions to the agency detailing the Government's opposition to the proposed plant. In the light of the agency's recent decision, Deputy Jacob has written to the relevant UK Ministers reiterating the Government's opposition to the proposed MOX plant and requesting that they rescind the agency's proposed decision.