Sellafield plans to 'significantly reduce' radioactive discharges

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has given permission to British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) to re-route certain radioactive production at Sellafield in order to "significantly reduce" radioactive discharges into the environment.

The modification to re-route the radioactive liquid process stream, Medium Active Concentrate (MAC), was a key part of the Environment Agency's decision on the future regulation of technetium-99 discharges from Sellafield. The Agency's decision acknowledged the need for the proposed re-routing to be subject to HSE permission.

The intended modifications will route future MAC to storage in the highly active storage tanks and subsequently to vitrification. BNFL has had to demonstrate to HSE that a modification to the process and operations can be done safely and will have no detrimental effects on either the high-level waste storage or the vitrification plants.

The decision comes one week after the Irish government began legal proceedings in The Hague to seek the closure of the Sellafield power plant.

The oral phase of the dispute was brought against the UK by the Government of Ireland under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The tribunal will consider Ireland's claim that the UK's decision to manufacture MOX fuel at Sellafield was taken without "proper regard to certain provisions of UNCLOS" - a claim the UK government emphatically refutes.

Ireland's Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Martin Cullen, has described the Irish government’s legal action relating to the MOX plant at Sellalfield as “an action to protect Ireland’s interests”.

The hearings will proceed for approximately three weeks from June 10 to June 27 and will be open to the public with some exceptions where material being referred to is of a confidential nature.


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