EU urged to probe U.K. nuclear sub
Tension increases between Spain and Britain over HMS Tireless
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- The European Ombudsman said on Thursday that it had asked the European Commission to launch an inquiry into the possible risks posed by a damaged British nuclear submarine moored in Gibraltar.
HMS Tireless, which sprang a leak in the cooling system of its nuclear reactor, has been anchored in the British colony since last May despite protests from nearby Spanish communities, irritating ties between Madrid and London.
"The inquiry should allow the Commission to establish whether the situation contravenes relevant EU law, in particular several directives on the protection of the public against radiation risks," the Ombudsman's office said in a statement.
The European Commission has limited powers in dealing with such matters. Its main role is ensuring that the public is adequately informed about health protection measures to be applied in the case of a radiological emergency.
The Commission has already requested and received information from Britain on the state of the Tireless and is now analysing the data.
Thursday's statement said the Ombudsman had made his request to the Commission after receiving a complaint from his counterpart in Spain's Andalusia region adjacent to Gibraltar.
The Ombudsman is an independent watchdog appointed by the European Parliament to monitor malpractices within the EU.
On Wednesday, Spain's foreign ministry said the British Royal Navy had indicated it would need about two months to finish repairing the submarine.
Both the Spanish and British governments insist that the submarine poses no health threat and London says moving the ship would be risky.
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