emissions predicted to rise
Daily Telegraph / Electronic Telegraph, 26
By Charles Clover
Radioactive emissions from Sellafield will rise over
the next three years, despite a treaty signed by John Prescott, the
Deputy Prime Minister, three years ago to reduce them steadily, according
to a leaked report. It is predicted that emissions to the sea of carcinogenic
substances such as plutonium and tritium will peak in 2003 and remain
above 1998 levels until 2008. Several plutonium isotopes are among the
likely discharges, according to the predictions, confirmed yesterday
by the Environment Agency.
Plutonium is a substance with no safe level of exposure
and even a speck, if it found its way into food for human consumption,
would be enough to cause cancer. One of the British Nuclear Fuels documents
leaked to Greenpeace and Cumbrians Opposed to the Nuclear Environment
says that, in the worst case, discharges could be above legal limits.
The predictions were published by Greenpeace on the
eve of this week's meeting of signatories to the Ospar treaty, which
governs sea pollution in the north-east Atlantic.
At a meeting in Sintra, Portugal, in 1998, Mr Prescott,
then Environment Secretary, signed up to the "progressive and substantial
reductions" of Sellafield discharges, with the aim of concentrations
of artificial radioactive substances in the environment being "close
to zero" by 2020.
Coincidentally, emissions, which are currently all
within discharge limits set by the Environment Agency, are predicted
to peak by the time of the next meeting of ministers from Ospar countries
Dr Helen Wallace, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner, said:
"Emissions going up is clearly not what most Ospar governments understand
by Britain's commitments under the treaty which says that emissions
should progressively be going down."
A spokesman for BNF said: "The Government should
stand up to BNF and make sure they keep their promise. These discharges
are polluting countries from Ireland to the Arctic with dangerous radioactivity.
We're committed to help the Government reach its commitments under Ospar."
"These emissions are partly from processing historic
arisings from the nuclear industry over the past 50 years that we are
committed to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to work off. The
figures compiled by Greenpeace conveniently do not show that Magnox
reprocessing will end in 2012, well within Ospar's commitment period."
Sellafield's Magnox nuclear reactors are all due to
close by 2010.