Friday, 16 September 2016

Ceisteanna (1642)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

1642. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will meet with his counterpart in the UK as a matter of urgency to discuss serious safety issues arising from a television programme (details supplied) on Sellafield on 5 September 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25793/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

A comprehensive report (in the form of a Probabilistic Risk Assessment, or “PRA”) on the risks to Ireland from Sellafield, was completed in 2012. The PRA was a very comprehensive and detailed scientific exercise which established that there was no threat to the health of the public in Ireland arising from activity at the Sellafield site. I am satisfied with the level of progress made in the intervening years in dealing with the legacy issues at the site and with the level of cooperation being provided by the UK Authorities in this ongoing matter. Having discussed this matter with the relevant officials in my Department, it is not considered that the investigation by the Panorama programme has uncovered any new significant matters which would cause concern for Ireland. What Ireland wants to see in relation to Sellafield is that the current levels of progress being made on the site on the various projects dealing with the legacy issues is maintained and that there is a continued commitment, financial and otherwise, by the British Government to this work. To ensure Ireland's input into this process, on-going engagement at a technical and regulatory level through the UK Ireland Contact Group on Radiological Matters allows Ireland unprecedented access to documentation, personnel and reports about the Sellafield facility.  This access, including site visits, has informed our understanding of works and developments at the Sellafield Nuclear Plant and how each individual facility on the site interacts at a technical level, and has led to a better awareness of the challenges facing the UK authorities in managing the safe decommissioning of operations at the site. The last site visit, by officials and experts, took place in April 2015.  Technical experts from the Office of Radiological Protection are scheduled to meet with the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation shortly to discuss the issues raised in the Panorama programme and any remedial actions proposed to strengthen the safety culture at Sellafield.

Senior officials from my Department will also meet their counterparts in the UK through the UK Ireland Contact Group on Radiological Matters, as part of their regular series of meetings. The general issue of safety at the Sellafield site, which includes those issues specifically highlighted by the Panorama programme, will be discussed as part of the agenda of that forum.