The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has published on its website its model response to the transboundary consultation on the potential impacts to Ireland of the proposed Sizewell C new nuclear reactor in Suffolk, East Anglia. The model response is designed for Irish Councils, Irish environmental groups and Irish residents to respond to the consultation organised by the Irish Government as part of international environmental regulations.
Under the terms of the 1991 United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention), and the EU Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (the EIA Directive), EU Member States are required to engage in transboundary public consultation in respect of projects likely to have significant effects on the environment of neighbouring States as part of the environmental impact assessment of a proposed major development. As the UK is still in the transition period of leaving the EU, it is bound by the EU Directive, as well as the wider Espoo Convention.
As such, the UK Government has been in touch with the Irish Government on the proposed development of the Sizewell C new nuclear reactors, and a consultation on them for Irish residents concludes on the 28th October.
NFLA has previously been in touch with a number of Regional Assemblies who have passed resolutions of concern over the proposed Sizewell C development, and this wider summary outlines such concerns in more detail. (1)
The core concerns of the NFLA that it encourages Councils and environmental groups to make include:
- In this regard it is of serious concern that there has been such a limited and inadequate consideration by the UK of the potential for transboundary impacts on Ireland.
- The risk to Ireland is under-assessed in six core areas –
- the duration of a radiation release on Ireland in the event of a serious accident;
- the impacts of Brexit and the UK leaving the Euratom Treaty;
- the Covid-19 outbreak and its impacts on economic activity;
- the delay on the delivery of new nuclear reactors meaning that older reactors have to continuing generating longer than planned;
- radioactive waste disposal risks;
- flood risks given longer-term climate change modelling.
- The UK’s assessment of transboundary risk fails to fully consider airborne transport of radiation in the event of a severe nuclear incident. It also includes significant reliance on UK regulation to avoid accidents, and to argue for a very low probability.
- A number of prescient severe accident scenarios undertaken by Irish authorities of Sizewell C would have clear potential impacts to Ireland.
- Spent fuel from Sizewell C will remain on site for many decades after generation ends, and remains a real risk should an accident occur to such stores take place.
- According to the UK Government’s Article 37 submission to the European Commission on Hinkley Point C, a severe accident would only release 0.0447TBq of radioactivecaesium-137. Given the proposed Sizewell C reactor is expected to be a carbon copy of the Hinkley Point C reactor, so the figure for it will be comparative.
- A report by ESRI puts the potential economic damage to Ireland of a severe accident to a nuclear reactor in the UK as much as €161 billion. Even under the most benign scenario considered by ESRI, where no radioactive contamination occurs – total loss is estimated at €4 billion.
NFLA urges Irish Councils, environmental groups and residents to make their voice heard to ensure that Ireland tells the UK that there are a plethora of real concerns from the construction of Sizewell C, just as there are from Hinkley Point C and any other new nuclear facility that may be built.
NFLA All Ireland Sustainable Energy Chair, Councillor David Healy said:
“This detailed NFLA Policy Briefing clearly indicates that there are a considerable number of transboundary risks to Ireland should the construction of the Sizewell C reactor take place. I encourage Irish Councils to make urgent representations using the content of the NFLA response. I welcome this briefing as showing the forensic detail of the NFLA to alert Councils across Ireland to the risks of new nuclear power from the UK, as well as putting forward safer, sustainable, renewable low carbon energy solutions in their place.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes to Editors:
(1) NFLA New Nuclear Monitor 63 –The possible transboundary impacts to Ireland of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear reactor, October 2020