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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 16:11 GMT
Irish appeal over nuclear plant
Sellafield's Mox plant, Sellafield
The plant will mix plutonium with uranium oxide
The Irish government has made a last-minute appeal to Britain not to go ahead with a controversial nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield in the north of England.

A senior minister in Dublin said on Monday that the government was determined to see the plant closed.

The mixed-oxide (MOX) plant at Sellafield is scheduled to be commissioned this week.

The plant will mix plutonium with uranium oxide.

Last month, the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg rejected arguments that the 470m development, on the Cumbrian coast opposite Ireland, broke international laws on sea pollution and posed safety and security concerns.

Dublin wanted Britain to be ordered to suspend MOX operations until an international arbitration tribunal was established to resolve the dispute.


I am again calling on Britain not to proceed and commission MOX

Joe Jacob, Irish Minister

The tribunal ruled the provisional measures requested by Ireland were not necessary but did order Britain and Ireland to start consultations to exchange information on the possible pollution consequences.

'Target for terrorists'

Earlier this month, UK campaigners fighting to block the opening of the reprocessing plant lost their latest legal battle.

Three Court of Appeal judges rejected an appeal over a High Court ruling that the UK Government had made "no error of law" in giving the go-ahead.

Campaigners and the Irish Government fear the Sellafield scheme could lead to pollution and could also become a target for terrorists or those wishing to steal nuclear materials.

The Irish minister responsible for nuclear safety, Joe Jacob, has demanded a full clarification from Britain about the recent shutdown of several reactors at Sellafield.

He said the Irish Government had not been advised of the shutdowns in line with stated agreements.


We are giving Ireland full support on this

Borge Brenda, Norwegian Environment Minister

"I am again calling on Britain not to proceed and commission MOX, pending legal actions that are under way," he said.

"We are protesting about that, and this clearly justifies our government's determination to have Sellafield closed.

"It also serves to underpin the importance of the legal actions and avenues being currently pursued by us."

'Increased radioactivity'

The Irish campaign has been given a boost after Norway give its support to the calls for Sellafield's closure.

Mr Jacob held talks in Dublin on Monday with Norwegian Environment Minister Borge Brenda.

Protest, BBC
Sellafield has been the target of protesters

He said Norway believed discharges from Sellafield were responsible for increased radioactivity off its coast.

"We are giving Ireland full support on this," said Mr Brenda.

He is expected to visit the Cumbrian plant during a visit to Britain.

The Norwegian Government is also understood to be considering legal action over the issue.

Campaigners argue that sea pollution from Sellafield is the cause of above average cancer rates in some parts of the east of Ireland.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Nuclear power
Should Sellafield be shut down?
See also:

23 Nov 01 | England
Protesters target Sellafield
08 Nov 01 | UK
Q&A: Sellafield's Mox plant
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