The European Commission has formally threatened Britain with a case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to consult its officials before issuing radioactive waste disposal licences.

Previously existing permissions were renewed in 2000 by the country’s Environment Agency for dealing with waste from the UK’s atomic weapons establishment facilities in Aldermaston and Burghfield, but this was done without Brussels’ knowledge. The commission claims that under article 37 of the Euratom treaty, European Union member states must provide data to its experts on any radioactive waste disposal plan. Brussels then has six months to give an opinion on whether it approves the proposals, or not.

A spokesman for the UK ministry of defence said that it would be “inappropriate to argue the issues in public,” but admitted that there was a disagreement.

The UK is also being pressured by the commission to come up with a plan to make accounting for materials – including about 1.3t of plutonium – quick enough for spot-checks at its infamous B30 spent fuel pond.