Ireland is to push for tighter safety standards in Europe's nuclear industry, said Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. John Gormley TD, after EU Environment Ministers today (25 June 2009), agreed a new Nuclear Safety Directive.
Minister Gormley said, "This Directive is to be welcomed in so far as it goes, but it represents little more than a first step in dealing with the issues raised by nuclear power. Ireland is and will remain a non-nuclear state. We do not believe that nuclear power is the answer to our energy needs, but would prefer instead to see greater emphasis on renewable energy sources. We will continue to seek stronger regulations in Europe that recognise the potential risks that one nation's nuclear power industry imposes on its neighbours."
Ireland has been pushing strongly for improved standards of nuclear safety and played a substantive role in strengthening the new Directive.
One key element successfully sought in the negotiations was international peer reviews of nuclear safety in EU Member States. The new Directive ensures regular independent assessments of safety at nuclear installations and will allow experts from fellow member states, including non-nuclear states such as Ireland, to review safety frameworks operating in other EU countries.
But Mr. Gormley stressed that the Directive does not cover all nuclear installations and does not directly address the issue of environmental protection, focussing only on the safety of workers and the wider population.
Minister Gormley looks forward to working with the EU Commission and other member states to secure greater harmonisation and improvements in safety standards throughout Europe's nuclear industry.
Notes for Editors:
(1) The text of the Council Directive (Euratom) setting up a Community Framework for Nuclear Safety of Nuclear Installations is available at www.europa.eu
(2) The Government's advisory body on nuclear safety is the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (www.rpii.ie).
(3) Member States will now have 2 years to transpose the Directive into national legislation.
Energy & Environment