ENVIRONMENT AGENCY RESPOND ON SELLAFIELD DRAINAGE ISSUE
The Environment Agency (EA) has responded to questions from the Celtic League about the monitoring of storm water outfalls and surface drainage at the vast Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria (see link):
The information supplied by the EA is quite detailed and is set out below. It indicates that there are a number of pathways for the possible discharge of polluted drainage water from the plant and although monitoring is in place the EA are not specific about the detail or regularity of same. It is also unclear
if the monitoring process is self-regulatory i.e. if the sampling is undertaken by the plant and then notified to the EA or indeed whether the EA carry out random sampling themselves.
The EA also confirm that no increased monitoring of stormwater/drainage pathways from the plant was undertaken during the unusually high rainfall event in Cumbria in November 2009.
The Celtic League are not reassured by the information supplied by the EA and will pursue the issue when we have had a chance to collate this with other detailed information supplied earlier by the HSE.
The Celtic League is grateful to both the EA and HSE for their cooperation in this matter.
Our ref: SEL/11/411
Date: 11 March 2011
Mr J B Moffatt
11 Cleiy Rhennee
Isle of Man
Dear Mr Moffatt
MONITORING OF SELLAFIELD STORM WATER DRAINS
Thank you for your letter of 17 February 2011 to our Chief Executive, Paul Leinster. He has asked me to respond on his behalf.
You asked whether there is monitoring of storm water drains on the Sellafield site and whether there was increased monitoring during the unprecedented high rainfall in Cumbria during November 2009. I note that you have raised these questions with the Health and Safety Executive and would like further
information from the Environment
There is a risk based approach to the control and monitoring of surface water run-off to storm water drains on the Sellafield site. For areas of the site where there is the potential for small quantities of radioactive contamination to enter storm water drains, the surface water is routed to sea-outfalls and these are routinely monitored. Hence, in the Magnox reprocessing area of the Sellafield site, surface water is routed to a lagoon and then to the main sea discharge pipeline. In some other parts of the site, surface water is routed to the factory sewer which discharges into the River Ehen. Discharges from the
lagoon and factory sewer are routinely sampled and analysed for radioactivity and the results reported to the Environment Agency.
For low risk areas of the Sellafield site, where the likelihood of radioactive contamination entering the storm water drains is low, there is direct discharges of storm water to the River Calder or via pipeline to sea. These are not monitored as indicated in the response to your letter from the Health & Safety Executive. We are satisfied that this is proportionate in regulatory terms, given that we work closely with our colleagues in the Health & Safety Executive to ensure that Sellafield Ltd optimises its arrangements for leak and escape
prevention, so that the risk of any significant leakage is minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable. The Environment Agency requires Sellafield Ltd to have an environmental monitoring programme, which includes monitoring of the water in the River Calder. Current arrangements are for hourly sampling of this
river water. The Environment Agency also has an independent environmental monitoring programme around the Sellafield site. The results of this monitoring programme, as I am sure you are aware, are published in our annual Radioactivity in Food and Environment report.
With regard to your question whether the frequency of monitoring was increased during the unprecedented high rainfall in Cumbria during November 2009, this was not necessary for the monitoring of the lagoon and factory sewer, as the sampling is designed to be fully representative of the discharges.
I hope this helps answer your questions. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding my letter.
Dr Rob Allott
Sellafield Team Leader
Nuclear Regulatory Group”
Related links on Celtic News here:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.
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