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C 310/8 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission


(2 April 1998)

1. The Commission has not, so far, carried out an analysis of the type recommended by the Honourable
Member. Nor does such analysis figure among the Commission’s main priorities.

2. The Commission considers that the challenge of globalisation increases the need for enhanced international
cooperation in the field of health and safety at work. A solid body of Community health and safety legislation has
been built up over the past decade and the Commission is working towards encouraging non-Member countries
to improve their legislation with a view to approximating Community standards.

3. The Commission encourages training for workers in the canning industry with the aim not only of
improving product quality and the performance of Community undertakings but also of increasing awareness of
the constraints imposed on this sector under the health and hygiene and environmental directives. Synergy
between the various measures carried out by industry, research and technological development centres and the
two sides of industry can also contribute to such training.

One of the objectives of the FAIR research programme is to promote and facilitate industry’s participation in
research and technological development (RTD) activities by industry, and in particular to involve small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Technology stimulation measures (TSMs) for SMEs have been included in
the programme for precisely this purpose. Industry increasingly participates in calls for proposals for shared cost
and joint action projects in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

4. The Commission proposal for the fifth framework programme is at present under discussion by the Council
and Parliament, and does include proposals on food science. The objectives of the Commission’s proposal for the
fifth framework programme for research and technological development (1998-2002) (1) are to enhance
European research potential and to help ensure that European research serves the Community’s economic and
social objectives. The revised proposal of 14 January 1998 (2) includes a key action entitled ‘Health, food and
environmental factors’ which aims to ensure a safe, healthy, balanced and varied food supply for Europe’s
consumers and strengthen the competitiveness of the European food industry. The needs and priorities of the
fish-canning industry have therefore been fully considered. The proposed key action will also reinforce
co-operation between industry and research organisations.

5. The Commission welcomes the efforts of the fisheries sector to go beyond the minimum levels required in
existing legislation, as it declared in its communication on the future for the market in fisheries products (3),
thereby introducing this issue into the debate on measures needed to promote improved productivity in the
industry.

(1) COM(97) 142 final.


(2) COM(98) 8 final.
(3) COM(97) 719 final.

(98/C 310/09) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4005/97


by Allan Macartney (ARE) to the Commission
(14 January 1998)

Subject: Radioactive waste dumping off the coast of Scotland, in particular in the area known as Beaufort’s
Dyke

Documents recently discovered in the UK Public Records Office show that radioactive waste has been dumped in
the area of Beaufort’s Dyke. In respect of other locations not previously recognized as dumping sites for
radioactive waste, the Scottish Office has now identified the following:
− scrap from a radioactive valve manufacturing unit dumped between 1954 and 1957 in the Firth of Forth off
North Queensferry,
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/9

− advice to a UK company in 1949 to dispose of 35 000 luminized dials likely to have contained in total
between 25 and 50mg radium either on land or in sealed drums at least five miles offshore, probably
continuing in the 1950s,

− the dumping by a UK company of two anti-static devices (strontium 90) at the explosives disposal site off the
Isle of Arran prior to 1958,

− the dumping in 1963 at Garrach Head, on the Clyde, of material from the clean-up of a former radium factory
at Balloch.

The area of Beaufort’s Dyke is of particular concern. Quantities of radioactive waste were dumped around this
area during the 1950s and 1970s. Of immediate concern is the approval of the construction of an electricity
interconnector adjacent to Beaufort’s Dyke. This could result in the further disturbance of munitions, recently
distrubed during the laying of a gas pipeline. The radioactive nature of some of the materials dumped off
Beaufort’s Dyke means that questions of safety must be considered. The availability of European Union
structural funding for a project involving potential health and safety risks should also be addressed.

In light of the new evidence set out above concerning the dumping of radioactive waste around Scotland, is the
Commission now in a position to investigate this matter fully (with reference to its answer of 24 January 1996,
x1/001145, from Marius Enthoven)?

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(5 February 1998)

The Commission is aware of the evidence to which the Honourable Member refers. The Honourable Member is
referred to the reply it gave to written question P-2495/97 by Mrs McKenna (1), on the dumping of radioactive
waste in Beaufort’s Dyke, between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Although the United Kingdom was not a
Member State at the time of the dumping in question, the Commission has made enquiries into this matter.
In particular, the Commission asked the British authorities for further information on the quantity and range of
radionuclides involved, on the nature of the packaging used and on possible health effects from the waste.

Even although regular monitoring since the 1960s had not revealed any measurable effect on radioactivity in the
area concerned, the British authorities commissioned the National radiological protection board (NRPB) to make
an independent assessment of the information and to estimate the radiological significance of the disposals to
Beaufort’s Dyke and of disposals around the Scottish coast which came to light at the same time. That
comprehensive assessment was presented to the British authorities in November 1997 and is available, from the
British National radiological protection board, as NRPB Memorandum M859, ‘Assessment of the radiological
implications of dumping in Beaufort’s Dyke and other coastal waters from the 1950s’. It was concluded that
estimated doses from the dispersion of radionuclides were not significant in radiological protection terms.
An assessment was also made of potential doses from handling drums and individual items returned to beaches
by wave action or recovered as a result of fishing activities. A radiologically significant dose results from one
scenario only, namely the handling of either of two strontium-90 sources disposed of near the Isle of Arran.
While the likelihood of such an event was considered to be very small, the NRPB nevertheless considered that it
might be prudent to offer advice to trawlermen and organisations responsible for dealing with material that is
washed up on beaches. However, in the light of its assessment, the NRPB recommended that there was no need
for additional monitoring of the marine environment in connection with the disposals, nor implicitly any
justification in seeking to recover the waste.

In view of these conclusions and of the fact that the disposals took place prior to Euratom legislation being
applicable to the United Kingdom, the Commission considers that no further action is required on its part.
C 310/10 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

With regard to the proposed construction of an electricity interconnector between Scotland and Northern Ireland,
the safety of the undersea route has been a priority from the outset, as it has long been known that Beaufort’s
Dyke has been used for many years as a dumping ground for surplus munitions. Northern Ireland electricity
(NIE) has carried out three separate detailed surveys of the seabed along the route corridors being considered,
using state of the art survey equipment. The detailed cable routes have been selected within the surveyed
corridors so as to avoid all obstacles. Further surveys along these selected routes will be carried out both before
and after laying the cables as a matter of normal installation practice. When the cables are being installed, the
precision methods which will be used will ensure that nothing on the seabed is disturbed. These installation
methods are vastly less disruptive of the seabed than those used to lay a pipeline. NIE is working closely with the
health and safety authorities, and issued an addendum to its environmental statement in December 1997, as a
response to the NRPB memorandum referred to above. This addendum is currently in public consultation in
Northern Ireland. However, since the only area of concern raised by the NRPB was near the Isle of Arran,
nowhere near the site of the interconnector, no new risk arises. The Commission is satisfied that the health and
safety issues surrounding the interconnector have been adequately addressed and that the laying of the cables
will not pose any risk to public health and safety.

(1) OJ C 60, 25.2.1998, p. 136.

(98/C 310/10) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4014/97


by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission
(14 January 1998)

Subject: Keeping of animals in circuses

Does the Commission have any proposals concerning the keeping of wild animals in circuses?

Does it agree that keeping wild animals − particularly larger animals such as elephants and bears in circuses and
training them to do special tricks frequently involves cruelty? Does it accept that this practice runs contrary to the
provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam on animal welfare?

Would the Commission be willing to compile a list of which animals may and may not be kept in circuses and
used for circus performances?

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission


(6 February 1998)

Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by
regulating trade therein (1) contains provisions on the importation of animals of the species listed in its Annexes
as well as on their housing and transport. In addition, the Commission’s proposal for a Council recommendation
relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos (2) will be extended with the recommendation that Member States
adopt appropriate provisions for the keeping of wild animals in other establishments, such as circuses. The
Commission would like to point out, however, that the above instruments do not fall within the scope of the
declaration (No 24) in relation to the protection of animal welfare attached to the Treaty on European Union.

Finally, as the number of species from which wild-collected animals are available to circuses under Council
Regulation (EC) No 338/97 is already limited and further reduced by conditions with regard to housing facilities
and transport, the Commission does not intend to draw up the list mentioned by the Honourable Member.

(1) OJ L 61, 3.3.1997.


(2) COM(95) 619 final.