Stichting Werkgroep Noordzee, Stichting Greenpeace Nederland v Minister for Public Health

Date07 Agosto 1981
CourtRoyal Decree (Netherlands)
The Netherlands, Royal Decree (Administrative Decision of the Crown)
Stichting Werkgroep Noordzee, Stichting Greenpeace Nederland, Stichting Natuur en Milieu and Others
Minister for Public Health and Environmental Matters

Environment Maritime Discharge of radioactive waste at sea Low-level radioactive waste Ministerial permission for discharge under Netherlands Nuclear Energy Act Compatibility with London Convention on Prevention of Marine Pollution by the Dumping of Wastes, 1972 Requirement to give consideration to alternative land-based methods of disposal prior to granting permission for discharge at sea Circumstances in which temporary storage on land should be required The law of the Netherlands

Summary: The facts:By a Decree of 6 April 1981, the Dutch Minister responsible for environmental matters granted permission under the Nuclear Energy Act to the Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland (ECN) to dump radioactive wastes originating in Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland, packed in barrels and containers, into the Atlantic Ocean approximately 700 km north-west of Spain. The Decree entered into force immediately. Various environmental bodies as individuals appealed against the Decree to the Crown, arguing that the proposed dumping violated provisions of the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by the Dumping of Wastes, 1972. At the same time the appellants applied to the President of the Council of State (Afdeling Contentiux) for an order staying the Decree pending the outcome of the appeal. The President granted the order on the ground that, if the Crown did eventually give judgment against the Minister, any dumping could not be undone.

Held:The appeal against the Ministerial Decree was dismissed.

(1) The radiation which would be added to the marine environment as a result of the proposed dumping of low-level radioactive waste was so small that it could not reasonably be contended that such dumping was likely to constitute a danger to human life and the marine environment.

(2) The waste to be dumped was to be packed in accordance with guidelines laid down by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. These guidelines complied with the objectives of the London Convention, 1972, which allowed low-level and medium-level radioactive waste to be dumped at sea provided that permission was obtained and various...

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