Minister Dennis Naughton, TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, has been urged to support a United Nations Convention’s ruling requiring suspension of work on the new Hinkley Point UK nuclear reactor until a transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] is completed.

 

The first new nuclear station to be constructed in the UK since 1995, Hinkley C is a 3.2GW nuclear power plant composed of two reactors. The power plant will generate 7% of UK's electricity if constructed. The UK position is that “the likely impacts determined through a thorough EIA do not extend beyond the county of Somerset and the Severn Estuary”.

 

The Espoo Convention, signed by Ireland in 1991, requires that the opportunity for comment provided to the public of potentially affected Parties is ‘equivalent to that provided to the public of the Party of origin’.

 

A complaint from the Irish NGO Friends of the Irish Environment in March 2013 to the UN Economic and Social Council determined that the UK did not met its obligations under the Espoo Convention.

 

The finding are due to be confirmed by a Meeting of the Parties to the Convention in Minsk on 13 June. FIE cited Ireland’s failure to answer the Committee's direct question about transboundary impacts when it was investigating this matter, writing ‘it is essential that you take a personal interest’.

 

FIE’s complaint cited an Irish Radiological Institute Report which acknowledged that in the event of an accident, Irish agriculture could be affected. ‘Food controls and agricultural protective measures would be required if any of these accidents occurred to ensure that food on sale in Ireland was safe to eat. In the case of the most severe accident scenario examined in the study, short-term measures such as sheltering would also be required’, the IRI Report concluded.

 

A spokesman for the group sad that ‘In spite of a strongly anti-nuclear Irish public, the Irish civil service decided that Ireland should bury it's head in the sand on UK nuclear issues for the sake of overall Anglo-Irish relations. The issue is far wider than simply Ireland and the UK. The current Minister must accept responsibilities under a Convention which we signed many years ago, represent Ireland’s long-standing opposition to nuclear power, and support international law under the United Nations ruling’.

 

The groups letter concludes: ‘We believe your support for the rulings of the Committee would be consistent with your own concerns for nuclear safety and effective international environmental law’.

 

ENDS

Contact: Tony Lowes 027 74771 / 087 2176316

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

Letter to the Minister

http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/library/17433-letter-to-minister-urging-support-for-un-ruling-requiring-suspension-of-work-on-new-uk-nuclear-plant

For details see previous FIE press release and related documents:

 http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17429-threat-to-work-at-hinkley-c-nuclear-plant-call-on-minister-to-assert-irish-rights

 

Irish Radiological study

https://www.rpii.ie/Site/Media/Press-Releases/RPII-reports-on-risks-to-Ireland-of-planned-new-UK.aspx

 

The Espoo Convention is about Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment and has taken on a particular importance in relation to nuclear power issues.  

FIE has also urged the Minister to support a German initiative to amendment to the EIA legislation to require an assessment for renewal of licenses for nuclear power plants which are already old and dilapidated today. The move follows the upholding of a complaint to the Espoo Committee by a Ukraine NGO which has resulted in the Ukraine’s offer to subject the renewal of the licence for its nuclear plant at Belarus to a transboundary EIA.

FIE has told the Minister that ‘Involvement in a transboundary EIA prior to lifetime extensions is a valuable instrument for governments and the public to raise concerns and discuss particularly severe problems.’

FIE is in contact with NGOs in other European countries in relation to other Espoo Convention issues, whose concerns have informed our requests to Minister Naughten in relation to the issue of EIA for time extensions for nuclear plants reaching the end of their original design lives and in relation to the lack of EIA for a new nuclear plant in Belarus.

 

 

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