The UK Environment Agency’s decision to authorise the disposal of radioactive waste from the Devonport Dockyards nuclear installation without consulting the European Commission has resulted in it being referred to the European Court of Justice.
According to the Commission, the UK authorities authorised the disposal of radioactive waste arising from the refitting and refuelling of nuclear submarines by DML, the owner and operator of the Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth, without following Euratom Treaty rules provisions and legislation regarding the protection of the health of workers and the general public.
The Euratom Treaty states that any plan for the disposal of radioactive waste should be assessed by the Commission prior to its implementation, to determine whether it might result in a health threat to another Member State.
Each Member State must provide the Commission with general data relating to any plan for the disposal of radioactive waste in whatever form. An assessment of the effects arising from the implementation of the plan is then made. The Commission then delivers its opinion within six months, after consulting a group of experts.
Failure to comply with these provisions led the Commission to open an infringement procedure against the UK in 2002. Today, since the infringement to the Euratom Treaty provisions remains unresolved, the Commission referred the case to the European Court of Justice.