Ireland strengthens attack on Sellafield

Jacob renews calls for "immediate" end to nuclear fuel reprocessing, threatens legal action

The Irish government has again called for an end to nuclear fuel reprocessing at the controversial Sellafield plant in north-west England. Addressing an annual meeting of Irish and UK local government on nuclear hazards yesterday, energy minister Joe Jacob described reprocessing as "unsafe, uneconomical and unjustified". He said that Ireland would "not hesitate to undertake appropriate litigation" against Sellafield's operator, BNFL, if operations failed to comply with international law.

The Irish government called last month for a Sellafield reprocessing ban as part of an agreement between north-west European states to be proposed at the Ospar convention meeting in June (ENDS Daily 28 March). The convention is designed to bring an end to the release of hazardous substances into the sea. "Cessation of reprocessing is the only logical solution to eliminating discharges to the marine environment. [Ireland is] determined to ensure that OSPAR states, notably the UK and France, do not shirk in any way from their responsibilities," Mr. Jacob said.

He argued that a deadline of 2015 set by the NII for moving a remaining backlog of high-level radioactive waste from tanks to solid glass blocks through a fourth vitrification line was "unacceptable". "In view of the accident risk, I have urged [building of] a fourth vitrification line as soon as possible", he said, adding that an independent survey by Ireland's radiological protection institute had been commissioned.

Follow Up:
Irish public enterprise ministry, tel: +353 1 670 7444; Mr. Jacob's speech will be posted on the website soon.

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