Written Answers. - Nuclear Plants.

John Gormley

Ceist:

198 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the steps she will take at the United Nations to stop the MOX reprocessing plant from proceeding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27637/01]

On 25 October 2001, the Irish Government initiated legal action against the UK under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in regard to the Sellafield MOX plant. The purpose of the legal action is to prevent the operation of the MOX plant and international movements of radioactive materials in and around the Irish Sea associated with the operation of the MOX plant.

In summary, the Irish Government has initiated these proceedings on the grounds that the UK has violated numerous provisions of UNCLOS. The Irish Government considers that the UK has failed to co-operate with Ireland by withholding information on the MOX plant; that the UK has failed to carry out a proper environmental impact assessment of the plant and associated transportation of radioactive materials and that by permitting new discharges of radioactive materials into the Irish Sea, it has violated its obligations to protect the marine environment.

Under this action, Ireland has requested the establishment of an international arbitration tribunal, viz., the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to resolve the case. Pending the convening of the Tribunal to consider the case and any decision from the Tribunal, the Irish Government has, in the last few days, requested ITLOS to order an immediate suspension of the UK's authorisation of the MOX plant and associated international transports of radioactive materials. A hearing on this request is commencing in Hamburg next week. The international proceedings under UNCLOS are separate from the legal proceedings under the OSPAR Convention which the Irish Government initiated some months ago against the UK in regard to the same plant and which I referred to in my reply to Question No. 110 on 25 October 2001.