Commenting on the Environment Agency's Proposals (1) for Future Sellafield Regulation, Greenpeace today described them as grossly inadequate. Greenpeace campaigner, Pete Roche, said, "Despite all the talk of significant reductions in discharge limits, the actual radioactivity going into the Irish Sea and our atmosphere is likely to double over the next few years".
The UK Government is committed under the OSPAR Treaty, which was signed by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 1998, to "prevent pollution of the maritime area from ionising radiation through progressive and substantial reductions of discharges, emissions and losses of radioactive substances, with the ultimate aim of concentrations in the environment close to zero for artificial radioactive substances".
The Proposals published by the Agency today will allow BNFL to increase discharges from the Sellafield site (4). The Proposals therefore fail to meet the objective of 'progressive and substantial reductions in discharges'. In addition, the recent UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges (2) allows the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant to continue discharging radioactivity into our seas beyond 2020. So the UK will not be meeting its commitment to 'close to zero concentrations' in the marine environment by 2020.
"Margaret Beckett must tell the Environment Agency to go back to the drawing board. These proposals will be widely condemned by our European neighbours. The only way we are going to meet our international commitments is to end reprocessing at Sellafield. As well as being environmentally damaging, reprocessing is a pointless activity, producing plutonium that nobody wants. Spent nuclear waste fuel could easily be stored in retrievable dry storage facilities that could be monitored."
Notes for editors:
- The Environment Agency's proposals will be available later today at www.environment-agency.gov.uk
- The UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges is available from DEFRA
- Greenpeace's 24 page submission to the Environment Agency's public consultation exercise is available on request.
- The Environment Agency's Open Board Paper No. EA(02)28 ITEM NO, for its meeting on the 15th May 2002 on the proposals includes the following statement:
Actual discharges from Sellafield and throughput related limits 4.13 Actual discharges of radioactive waste from Sellafield have been much lower in the last few years, when compared with the discharges that took place in 1994 - 96, and when also compared with discharges which could result from operation at design throughputs of the Magnox and THORP reprocessing plants. In order to meet the closure date of the Magnox reprocessing plant and to approach the design throughput of THORP, the planned throughput of spent fuel would be much higher than in recent years. Actual discharges to the environment are expected to increase, but discharges will still be within the new proposed limits and further constrained by the use of BPM.