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UK Failure To Consult Irish Citizens On Nuclear Plant Breached International Law

category national | environment | press release author Tuesday June 07, 2016 21:49author by Tony Lowes - Friends of the Irish Environmentauthor email admin at friendsoftheirishenvironment dot orgauthor phone 353 (0)27 74771 Report this post to the editors

Friends of the Irish Environment - Press Release 6th June 2016

The Implementation Committee for the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context has found that Britain has not met its obligations to discuss the impact of a nuclear accident with?the affected public in other countries, including Ireland. The findings are expected to be confirmed at the next plenary session in Minsk in June 2017.

UK FAILURE TO CONSULT IRISH CITIZENS ON NUCLEAR PLANT BREACHED INTERNATIONAL LAW

The Implementation Committee for the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context has found that Britain has not met its obligations to discuss the impact of a nuclear accident with?the affected public in other countries, including Ireland. The findings are expected to be confirmed at the next plenary session in Minsk in June 2017.

The Irish NGO Friends of the Irish Environment made a complaint to the Implementation Committee over the UK's failure to consult the public in Ireland about the potential trans-boundary implications of the construction and operation of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor.

The first new nuclear station proposed 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 UN’s Espoo Convention, named for the Finnish town in which it was signed in 1991, requires governments to provide an opportunity to the public in trans-boundary areas likely to be affected by a project to participate in the relevant Environmental Impact Assessment procedures regarding proposed activities. It must ensure that the opportunity provided to the public of potentially affected Parties is ‘equivalent to that provided to the public of the Party of origin’.

FIE’s complaint cited the Irish Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) Report published in May 2013 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 RPII Report concluded.

German Bundestag member Sylvia Kotting-Uhl also complained to the Implementation Committee. In October 2013, the Implementation Committee asked a number of affected countries for their view on whether "the proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C is likely to cause transboundary impact” on their territories.

Norway, the Netherlands and Austria expressed views that a major incident could have an effect in those countries. Ireland's response in November 2013 did not answer the question asked by the Committee. It referred to the RPII report but did not mention the transboundary impacts RPII predicted would be experienced in Ireland in the event of a major release of radioactive material.

The Committee’s recommendations include a request for ‘the United Kingdom to enter into discussions with possibly affected Parties, including Parties that cannot exclude a significant adverse transboundary impact from the activity at Hinkley Point C, in order to agree on whether notification is useful at the current stage for this proposed activity’.

Friends of the Irish Environment calls on the Government

1 - to explain why the Department of the Environment’s response in 2013 didn’t reflect the RPII's views in their response to the Espoo Implementation Committee and

2 - to confirm that they will take up the Committee's recommendations to discuss at this stage the value of notifying the Irish public of the environmental impact of the proposed nuclear power plant.

The issue is to be raised at the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) spring seminar this Friday 10th June in the Council Chamber, Fingal County Hall, Swords.

ENDS

Contact: David Healy 087 6178852

EDITORS REFERENCES

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland study
http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/radiation/proposednuclea....html

2013 Letter seeking Ireland’s views:
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/attachments...e.pdf

Irish response
http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/frIr...1.pdf

Findings:
http://friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/images/pdf/Hink...6.pdf

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