[Sinn Fein]

30th August 2002

Cowen urged to resist attempts by EU Commission to increase lending limits for nuclear power

Sinn Fein spokesperson on the Environment, Arthur Morgan TD has today called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen to resist all attempts by the EU Commission to increase lending limits for the support of nuclear power. The Commission's proposal is to be negotiated in Helsinborg today by EU Foreign Ministers. The Sinn Fein deputy for Louth said:

``Now that the spotlight is once again on the negative impact of the nuclear industry with the imminent arrival of the two nuclear fuel carrying ships on to the Irish Sea, I am calling on the government and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to robustly oppose any increases in lending limits for the development of nuclear facilities in Europe.

``It is becoming increasingly clear that this is an industry that exists only to keep itself in existence. Recent reports from Britain show that it is inefficient, unprofitable, unmanageable and unaccountable. It makes no sense whatsoever for the EU to be offering preferential lending terms to an industry that has the capacity and potential to destroy large sections of the continent should an accident occur.

``The Minister for Foreign Affairs should also use the opportunity to question the legitimacy, in terms of EU competition law, of Britain's continued bailing out of their own nuclear industry. Only this week we saw the recently privatised British Energy Company being offered the contract to run BNFL's Magnox reactors after accumulating loses of 493 million in 12 months. The British government awarded this contract to them because British Energy, which is made up of ten of the most modern nuclear reactors was not able to produce a product that was economically viable. They will instead be paid a `management fee' for running BNFL's six Magnox reactors, which ran up losses of 115 million over the last financial year. Not only that but BE would also be looking for a cut in the costs it pays BNFL to reprocess its spent fuel.

``This robbing Peter to pay Paul policy from the British government is proof that they have no intention of recognising the failures of their nuclear power project. These reports show that nuclear power was not a viable economic power generation strategy.

``If that wasn't bad enough news that BE are planning to build a large scale underground nuclear waste storage facility at Sellafield is truly horrifying.

``The government must not cut off any avenues in relation to tackling this menace on our doorstep. We must not be afraid about offending the sensitivities of our nearest neighbour - they have paid no heed to ours. If it means working with other non-nuclear states in Europe to disrupt the meetings today and tomorrow so be it. If it means sending patrol boats on to the Irish Sea to ensure the fuel carrying ships do not enter Irish waters so be it. This is too important an issue to be left on the long finger pending some form of legal action in the future.''

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