faces huge cutback in permitted radioactive discharges
The Independent, 24 August 2002
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor
Original address: http://huknews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020827670.4_afef001179cda873
RADIOACTIVE discharges from the Sellafield nuclear plant are to be
cut by up to 35 per cent under a new safety crackdown by the Environment
After nearly a decade of promises by the Government, the safety watchdog
has finally announced its plans to tighten regulations on air and sea
pollution from the controversial British Nuclear Fuels site in Cumbria.
Under the proposals, due to be sent to ministers for approval, BNFL
will face much lower limits on the levels of discharges of waste into
the Irish Sea. Hailed by the agency as a "major milestone"
in the clean-up of Sellafield, its biggest investigation will mean that
three-quarters of the aerial limits and half of the liquid-discharge
limits at the plant will be reduced.
The changes will mean that potential radiation doses to members of
the public in Cumbria will be cut by between 25 and 35 per cent, the
agency claims. A new, single safety certificate for all air, sea and
land waste disposals by Sellafield will be introduced, along with stricter
site monitoring and analysis.
BNFL said last night that it accepted it was now virtually inevitable
that the new restrictions would be introduced, but warned that it could
cost the company an extra pounds 40m to enforce. It claimed that the
additional monitoring would impose a significant "burden"
on operations and suggested that its frontline staff could face greater
radiation exposure to comply with the checks.
The Irish government, Scandinavian countries and green groups have
long called for action to be taken against the company.
Among the changes proposed, tritium limits will be cut by 20 per cent,
cobalt-60 by 72 per cent and caesium-134 by 76 per cent. New controls
will also be imposed on discharges from individual plants as well as
from the site as a whole.
A spokesman for BNFL said: "The overall benefits of what the Agency
is proposing are difficult to quantify and it is our view that the overall
environmental benefit will be minimal."