bid to stop MOX nuclear plant from opening
The Irish Independent, December 18, 2001
By Bernie O'Toole
THE Government has launched a last ditch legal bid
to try to halt the opening of the controversial MOX nuclear reprocessing
plant at Sellafield on Thursday.
The move comes after it emerged that several reactors were closed at
the nuclear facility without the Irish Government being informed in
line with stated agreements.
Junior Minister Joe Jacob said the Government presented what he called
"its substantive case" against MOX to the International Tribunal
of the Law of the Sea yesterday.
The tribunal's 21 judges who claimed jurisdiction in the case ruled
earlier this month that the UK must share information with Ireland about
the £475m plant.
But Mr Jacob, the minister with responsibility for nuclear safety,
told a press conference that it had not been evident there had been
a major improvement in the level of co-operation from the UK authorities.
He said neither the Government nor the Radiological Protection Institute
of Ireland had been informed about the closure of the reactors which
was reported in weekend newspapers and that protests would be made accordingly.
"Our lack of trust grows all the time quite frankly," he
said. "I think there's a moral obligation on the UK authorities
not to proceed with MOX until these legal issues are concluded,"
"We are embarked on a well prepared, long-term legal strategy.
We are fully resolved to proceed with that strategy," he said.
The international tribunal declined to give the Government an injunction
preventing the plant, which will create nuclear fuel from plutonium
and repreprocessed waste from the adjoining Thorp plant, becoming operational.
But Mr Jacob said they had got enough encouragement from the hearing
to proceed further with its case before the tribunal which he said was
the most "expeditious route".
The Irish Government's stance won the backing of the Norwegian government
whose Environment Minister Mr Borge Brenda met with Deputy Jacob in
Mr Brenda pledged his goverment's full moral and political support
to the Irish Government's fight against Sellafield and the opening of
He said the Norwegian government was also looking at legal moves to
prevent radioactive emissions in the sea from Sellafield which he said
The Norwegian minister said that if Ireland did not win its case at
the tribunal it would not be because the country did not have a good
Fine Gael has accused Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of letting the British
Government "off the hook" over Sellafield, writes Karl Brophy.
Party Environmental spokesperson Deirdre Clune said that the Radiological
Protection Institute of Ireland will not be visiting the controversial
plant despite an open invitation from British Nuclear Fuels.
"The Taoiseach has confirmed in a letter to Fine Gael leader Michael
Noonan that the RPII will not meet with BNFL until the January 14 next
and that meeting will take place in Dublin and not Sellafield as previously
envisaged," said Ms Clune.
"The Taoiseach also stated in his letter that 'a visit to Sellafield
will follow if considered useful by the RPII'." She described this
approach as "lax". "This is an extraordinary turn of
events, considering the Taoiseach has made great play of the the fact
that he is putting pressure at the highest levels to have Sellafield
closed down," she said.
Fine Gael is now demanding to know why an invitation
from BNFL to visit the plant, issued on November 3, has not been taken