In a written presentation to the Sellafield Local Liaison Committee (SLLC) on 5th June, the Environment Agency (EA) revealed plans for both liquid and solid Low Level Radioactive Wastes (LLW) to be shipped from Sellafield for incineration by Shanks Chemical Services at Fawley.
British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) , insolvent operators of the Sellafield Reprocessing site in West Cumbria, has accumulated tens of cubic metres of LLW from various site operations over a twenty year period, which it claims cannot be treated at Sellafield.
The solid LLW is comprised of ‘oil saturated’ radioactive rags resulting from maintenance operations at Sellafield’s Calder Hall nuclear power station military reactors. Contained in metal drums, the LLW is likely to be transferred to Fawley at a rate of up to 30 cubic metres per year.
The radioactive liquid LLW consists of various materials, including Butex solvent used in reprocessing operations at Sellafield and also Zinc Bromide from dismantled ‘shielding windows’ from old process storage plant. Contained in either steel or polythene containers, the liquid wastes will be transported to Fawley at what is understood to be around 10 cubic metres per year.
Martin Forwood, spokesperson for local pressure group CORE, said today “ This ‘not in my back yard’ plan has to be nipped in the bud immediately. We are astounded that BNFL should think of offloading their radioactive waste problems to Fawley. They are constantly making claims about their technical ability in waste management, yet are apparently not competent to deal with these particular wastes at Sellafield.”
BNFL operates not only the UK’s licensed LLW dump site for solid wastes at Drigg (just south of Sellafield) but also operates a Solvent Treatment Plant (STP) at Sellafield for dealing with reprocessing solvents. Inexplicably, neither are deemed a suitable option for the wastes destined for Fawley.
It is undertstood from the EA that the plans are still at an early stage, and that BNFL has not yet submitted a written application to send the wastes to Fawley. If the EA considers the plan to be the best environmental option it is likely to give the go-ahead to BNFL.
CORE’s spokesperson added that, if approved, the unjustified plans would lead not only to an unecessary increase in transport of nuclear waste around the UK, but also to the unquantified health detriment that would result from incinerating radioactive wastes.
The EA can be contacted at Penrith Regional Headquarters on 01768 866666.