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Brussels, 16 December 2004

UK faces legal action for failure to implement Euratom health and safety provisions against ionising radiation

The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion to the United Kingdom for failing to apply a requirement under specific provisions of the Euratom treaty concerning intervention and remedial action for the after-effects of past radioactive contamination.

A citizen's complaint drew the attention of the Commission to the non compliance of UK legislation with Article 53 of the Euratom Basic Safety Standards Directive[1] which provides for action by the Member States in situations of lasting exposure to ionising radiation. According to the Directive, such situations require "intervention" by the competent national authorities to prevent or decrease the exposure of individuals to radiation.

Current UK legislation implementing the provision of the Directive regarding intervention only allow for remedial action to be taken in case of redevelopment or disposal of radioactive waste. There is no regime to remedy other circumstances of past radioactive contamination. The adoption of national legislation to fill this gap has been delayed. The Commission has therefore decided to open infringement proceedings against the UK. A letter giving the Commission’s reasoned opinion on the case will be sent and the UK will have an opportunity to correct the situation before a formal reference to the European Court of Justice.

[1] 96/29/Euratom

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