Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

International Agreements

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 6 April 2011

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ceisteanna (33)

Martin Ferris


31 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding his work on the Oslo-Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, OSPAR, to achieve progressive and substantial reductions of radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea. [6916/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Environment)

The OSPAR strategy with regard to radioactive substances (RSS) has as its objective the prevention of pollution of the OSPAR maritime area by radioactive substances. This is to be achieved by the contracting parties to the convention, which include Ireland and the UK, through progressive and substantial reductions in discharges, emissions and losses of radioactive substances, with the ultimate aim of achieving concentrations in the marine environment near background values for naturally occurring radioactive substances, and close to zero for artificial radioactive substances by the year 2020.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has an ongoing monitoring programme of the Irish marine environment which is reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it is fit for purpose, including regarding assessing progress towards the implementation of the OSPAR strategy. The results of RPII monitoring are available on the institute's website, www.rpii.ie.

As Ireland has no nuclear installations, the only sources of radioactive discharge from Ireland to the OSPAR maritime area arise from the use of unsealed sources of radiation in the medical, education and research sectors and from discharges of produced water by the oil and gas industry. Iodine-131, mainly arising from discharges from Irish hospitals, is the only radionuclide present in measurable concentrations in discharges from Ireland. The use of unsealed sources of radiation at hospitals and at teaching and research facilities is carried out under licence from the RPII.

The RPII undertook a regulatory review of procedures dealing with iodine-131 discharges, which concluded that the procedures are consistent with the best available technique (BAT) concept as required under the OSPAR RSS. Furthermore, the environmental impact arising from Ireland's iodine-131 discharges is negligible and of no risk to members of the public from a radiological point of view.

Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention are required to publish national plans to show how the RSS is being implemented in their respective countries. Ireland's national plan was revised and updated in 2010 and presented to the OSPAR Commission. The plan can be viewed on my Department's website at http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/. The revised plan confirms that Ireland is on course to meet its commitments fully under the OSPAR RSS.

The UK also published in 2009 a Strategy for Radioactive Discharges which describes how the UK intends to meet its commitments under the OSPAR RSS. It is our expectation that the UK will fully meet all of its commitments under this strategy.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 15.