gives Ireland strong support
The Irish Times, 18 December 2001
The Government's campaign to curb Sellafield's operations
has been supported strongly by the Norwegian government, which warned
that Irish Sea radioactive discharges threaten its fish stocks, writes
The Minister of State for Public Enterprise, Mr
Joe Jacob, yesterday met the Norwegian Minister for the Environment,
Mr Borge Brenda.
Later, Mr Brenda met in London with the UK Secretary of State for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs, Mrs Margaret Beckett, and the Minister for the
Environment, Mr Michael Meacher.
The Government will today make a submission to the Hamburg-based International
Tribunal on the Law of the Sea as part of its attempt to prevent Sellafield's
MOX plant coming into operation.
The tribunal refused to give an injunction earlier this month, but
it then demanded that the UK and Ireland exchange information about
the risks associated with MOX's operation.
Legal advisers from both sides met last week in Dublin Castle, said
Mr Jacob. "It has not been evident to us that there has been a
major improvement in that co-operation, but that is as much as I will
say about that pending the ITLOS submission," he said .
The tribunal has the power to reverse its decision to allow the MOX
plant to come into commission on Thursday, though there is no evidence
yet that it is prepared to do so.
Mr Brenda said Sellafield's discharges into the Irish Sea drift to
the Norwegian coast, when they should instead be stored safely.
The levels of some radioactive elements were increasing, he warned,
though fish stocks levels were still just one-third of those allowed
by the EU.
"It is a growing problem in Norway that it is developing in the
wrong direction," said Mr Brenda, who visited the British Nuclear
Fuels installation late yesterday.
Ireland put forward "a strong case" to the tribunal, he went
"If Ireland doesn't win, it is not because it does not have a
good case, but rather that international environmental law is not as
strong as it should be."
The Government has still not been officially informed about last week's
closure of a number of British nuclear reactors, following a safety
"We were not advised in accordance with agreements. The incident
just adds to what we have come to expect. It adds to the lack of credence
that can be had in what the British authorities say," Mr Jacob
The Norwegian support is a boost for the Government, particularly since
Mr Brenda announced that Oslo is ready to begin to prepare its own legal
"As marine nations we share a common sense of responsibility towards
our seas. Consumers are increasingly and justifiably demanding uncontaminated
food from uncontaminated sources.
"Radioactive pollution of the seas caused by complexes such as
the monster that is Sellafield, which in our view have no economic justification
whatsoever, is the last thing fishing nations such as Ireland and Norway
can tolerate," said Mr Jacob.
Britain and Ireland had met a deadline to submit reports outlining
consultations they had held on the MOX plant, a spokesman for the Hamburg-based
Tribunal said yesterday.