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[cdn-nucl-l] England says Ireland's fears over nuclear waste recycling plant not justified
Posted the Associated Press on Yahoo News on October 22, 2002 and at:
England says Ireland's fears over nuclear waste recycling plant not
Tue Oct 22, 3:08 PM ET
By DANIELA VALENTA, Associated Press Writer
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Lawyers for Britain said Tuesday Ireland has
nothing to fear from a nuclear waste plant on the northwestern English
coast, and asked an international arbitration panel to let the plant
keep its finances confidential.
Rejecting Ireland's demands for unfettered access to information about
the Sellafield plant, 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the Irish coast,
British counsel Richard Plender said Irish claims of nuclear pollution
dangers are misleading and might cause "public alarm."
Plender told the three-judge Permanent Court of Arbitration that an
Irish citizen receives as much radioactivity from the plant in one year
as a passenger receives every two seconds on a commercial aircraft at
30,000 feet (9,000 meters).
Ireland brought England before the century-old arbitration court to
demand information about the Sellafield, including sales volumes and
contracts, which would indicate how much radioactive material is
But plant operator British Nuclear Fuels Plc, owned by the British
government, has refused, saying the data is sensitive and could
undermine future deals.
When hearings opened Monday, Irish Attorney General Rory Brady argued
that Ireland has a "direct, material" interest in information about the
plutonium recycling plant.
"The Irish Sea is one of the most radioactively polluted seas in the
world," Brady said. "The information affects Ireland's ability to assess
the impact on the Irish Sea environment."
But Plender countered that it was necessary to keep the information out
of the public domain "for reasons of security (news - web sites) as well
as commercial confidentiality."
He said Britain had made repeated offers to provide the requested
information to the Irish government under conditions of confidentiality,
but that the Irish had refused to accept it on those terms.
"The U.K.'s difficulty seems to be in persuading Ireland to accept 'Yes'
as an answer," Plender said.
Ireland admits its ultimate aim is to shut the plant completely. It
would not be able to use information received in confidence in future
Greenpeace spokesman Shaun Burnie said Ireland could use the information
to appeal to the European Court of Justice on the grounds that the plant
loses money and cannot commercially justify operations that would
release radioactive material.
Earlier suits in British courts by Ireland, Greenpeace, and Friends of
the Earth (news - web sites) to close the plant have failed.
The hearings are scheduled to finish Friday. The court has not set a
date for handing down its ruling.