Legal Blocks erected over new Sellafield power plant

“The Irish government and Greenpeace, acting with Friends of the Earth, are due to hold separate legal hearings next month to stop the building of a new mixed oxide fuel (MOX) plant at Sellafield.

The groups believe the building of a MOX plant on the Cumbrian coast would break international laws on sea pollution.

A statement from the Irish Public Enterprise department said, Ireland had taken these proceedings because it considers that in taking steps to authorise the MOX plant, the United Kingdom has violated numerous provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“”Ireland considers that the United Kingdom has failed to co-operate with Ireland by withholding information on the MOX plant. The United Kingdom has failed to carry out a proper environmental impact assessment of the MOX plant and transports of radioactive materials, and that by permitting new discharges of radioactive materials into the Irish Sea the United Kingdom would violate its obligations to protect the marine environment.””

Officials believe the MOX plant could be operational by 23 November, consequently the department has called for an international arbitration tribunal to be set up.

“”If the United Kingdom does not voluntarily suspend the authorisation of the MOX plant. On November 9, Ireland will ask the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order an immediate suspension of the authorisation of the MOX plant and international transports, pending any decision of the arbitration panel.””

The review is due to be heard at the High Court in London on 8 and 9 November, to determine whether or not a reasonable decision to go ahead with the new facility was taken.

Both environmental groups believe the move was not reasonable because they claim it wrongly estimated the economic gain from the plan and poses a hazard to the public on both sides of the Irish Sea.