The Aarhus Convention hasn’t been used much by TERRA until recently, primarily given the fact that national legislation prevails, and a lot of information (even regarding environmental issues) can be requested on the basis of the national Law regarding access to information.
Here are a couple of cases in which TERRA used the Aarhus Convention:
During the EIA process for Cernavoda NPP reactor 2 – TERRA had access to the EIA report and took part in the consultations. Some of their comments were included in the final version, together with their answers. The result was not satisfactory for Terra III, as answers have been eluded.
TERRAs comments regarding the EIA report were mainly that it was not comprehensive and lacked information such as:
Further more, TERRA received answers that the issues related to “external costs” – cooling water, should not be highlighted in a EIA report. Obviously, the information regarding terror attacks on nuclear facilities is classified.
A second case in which TERRA indirectly used the provisions of Aarhus Convention was during the EIA procedure related to Belene NPP in Bulgaria (2006). TERRA formulated a request for information (to the Romanian Ministry of Environment, which would then forward it to the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment) regarding the type of reactor that would be used and specifically requested that the EIA process be suspended until this information is known.
TERRA has not used the access to justice step - the NGOs focusses their activity on "soft" measures instead: information campaigns and closer relations with the communities.
Terra III used the Aarhus Convention...
...to request information on the feasibility study and on the EIA report regarding the Low and Intermediate Level Waste Repository in Saligny
Currently AN&DR obtained from CNCAN the extension by 2 years of the partial siting license for DFDSMA Saligny, which gives them enough time to start building and force the regional EPA to issue the environmental permit, using the argument “we have already invested so much, you can’t halt it now, can you?”
TERRA has requested this information from AN&DR (which is the new State agency resulted after the merge of the former Nuclear Agency and the former Agency for nuclear waste disposal). The answer TERRA received was that the documents are still not available to the public, due to some “intellectual property rights”. The study was commissioned while the Agency was coordinating a European Commission financed project. Only 80% of the total amount has been paid to the subcontractor from this project, currently they are expecting the last installment so they can make the last payment. Until then, AN&DR says, the Agency has no property rights over any of the documentation and so it can’t provide it to the public.
According to the same answer, an Environmental Impact Assessment Report is expected to be finalized and submitted to public consultation in October or November 2011.
This year, The Center for Judicial Resources and Greenpeace Romania sued AD&DR and Nuclearelectrica (the State company which operates Cernavoda NPP) for having rushed into buying the land and conducting siting plans for the Saligny Repository without strategic environmental assessment, they are working on the feasibility study and the technical project without EIA, and most importantly, still no real information of the public. Probably because of this lawsuit, AN&DR is now responding to invitations to different seminars and meetings that TERRA organizes.
...to request public consultation with the local population on uranium mining
During previous projects, TERRA has traveled to 3 different communities for uranium mining life-consequences; Inhabitants are usually told only the convenient part of the story, f.e.regarding job-creation, also, in 2008, when the exploration had already begun in Saligny. Over 80% of the population had not been informed about the plans for a final repository in their community.
This request hasn’t been fulfilled yet (June 2011)
... TERRA has identified some highly radioactive areas (according to Geiger-Mueller counter) on the campus of the Romanian Physics Faculty (read more under anitnuclear activities). TERRA will request information regarding radioactivity levels and safety in the area. TERRA will also request “authorized” measurements of the radioactivity levels in the area and request information regarding the conditions under which the site was “conditionally released from the authorization regime” - this results from CNCAN’s annual report for 2007, and the conditionality refers to the interdiction to practice agriculture or to build residences on the site.
The National Institute for Nuclear Research organized one event that had a session dedicated to Aarhus:
26-28 May 2010 in Pitesti The Third Annual International Conference on Sustainable Development through Nuclear Research and Education – a 75 minutes session was dedicated to Aarhus: Transparency Versus Confidentiality: Aspects of Aarhus Convention Implementation in Nuclear Field, facilitated by Claire Mays.
TERRA III wasn’t invited to the event, and on the Institute’s website, in the “Book of abstracts, there’s no reference to this section of the conference.