International tribunal rejects Irish bid to block MOX facility

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An international tribunal rejected on Monday a bid by Ireland to force Britain to suspend a decision allowing a contested reprocessing facility at the Sellafield nuclear site to start work.

An international tribunal rejected on Monday a bid by Ireland to force Britain to suspend a decision allowing a contested reprocessing facility at the Sellafield nuclear site to start work.

Britain's decision in October to authorise the Sellafield facility to begin production of mixed–oxide fuel at its MOX plant – a facility mothballed since 1996 because of financial and safety concerns – provoked fury in Dublin.

The Irish government wants an international arbitration tribunal to be established under a United Nations provision to resolve the dispute. That should be established in early February.

Last month, it asked the Hamburg–based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order immediate suspension of the British decision pending conclusion of the arbitration.

The tribunal ruled on Monday that "the urgency of the situation did not require the prescription of the provisional measures as requested by Ireland."

Irish Attorney General Michael McDowell told a two–day hearing last month in Hamburg that "this is about protecting the Irish Sea from further radioactive pollution." The British government countered that the court "lacks jurisdiction in this matter."

Campaigners in the Irish east coast towns of Dundalk and Drogheda have alleged for years that citizens suffer a higher–than–average incidence of cancer, which they blame on Britain's Sellafield nuclear site.

In its ruling, the tribunal noted that "the duty to cooperate is a fundamental principle in the prevention of pollution of the marine environment."

It ordered Britain and Ireland to start consultations immediately in which they would exchange information on the possible consequences to the Irish Sea of the MOX plant opening and "devise, as appropriate, measures to prevent pollution of the marine environment which might result from the operation of the MOX plant."

Comments