NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
RPII RESPOND ON SELLAFIELD LINK
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has set out there response to a query from the Celtic League about the value of the liaison that the body has with the British nuclear facility at Sellafield.
The Director of Information wrote to the RPII following discussion of the issue at the recent Celtic League AGM in Breizh.
In her response RPII Chief Executive, Ann McGarry says
“Dear Mr Moffatt,
I refer to your correspondence of the 6th January 2013 (received 14th January) regarding the value of the agreement allowing access for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) to Sellafield and also the discovery of
large numbers of radioactive particles on the beach near Sellafield.
Following discussions between the UK and Irish Governments stemming from the legal action brought by Ireland under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the two Governments established a number of agreements on nuclear
issues. Firstly, a formal agreement1 was signed to ensure swift exchange of information between the UK and Ireland in the event of a major nuclear accident or other radiological emergency occurring in either country. In addition, a
`Package of Measures’ was agreed to address a wide range of nuclear issues. The `Package of Measures’ included the facilitating of visits to Sellafield by the RPII and An Garda Siochána, provision of access for the RPII to data from the
UK’s radiation monitoring network and other initiatives designed to improve cooperation arrangements between both Governments.
RPII has benefited from the initiatives established under the `Package of Measures’ in a number of ways. Some examples of benefits realised to date include:
• The facilitation of a visit by the RPII to the Sellafield site in 2004. The briefing and visit to some of the high-hazard facilities on the site assisted us both in the context of our emergency preparedness arrangements and in understanding the UK’s approach to authorisation of radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea. A copy of the report of this visit is available on our website (www.rpii.ie) under Publications.
• In 2008, two RPII staff observed a UK regulatory inspection on aqueous waste practices at Sellafield. Observing this inspection enhanced our understanding of both the processes at Sellafield and was also an opportunity to see how the regulatory inspection regime operates in the UK.
• Under another measure which granted improved access to regulatory, environmental and research information, the RPII received data on the waste streams from the MOX plant, the Magnox reprocessing plant and the Thorp reprocessing plant. These additional data have allowed us to understand which plants at Sellafield give rise to the majority of discharges to the environment, which has enabled us to give advice to the Irish Government on which specific activities at Sellafield would potentially result in the greatest reduction in discharges into the Irish Sea, if ceased.
• The RPII has been granted access to real time data from the UK’s network of radiation monitoring sites (RIMNET). In the event of a nuclear accident in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, the data from this network would supplement those from the Irish National Radiation Monitoring Network in allowing the RPII to establish a picture of the transport of the radioactive plume towards Ireland and to extrapolate potential radiation doses to the Irish population.
• The improved cooperation between the two countries on nuclear issues also resulted in a confidential technical information exchange project being set up. The key output of the project was a Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) report of the risks from Sellafield to Ireland and to Irish interests, prepared by independent nuclear experts on behalf of the Irish Government. A summary of the PRA report was published last year and is available on the website of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government2.
Another outcome of the `Package of Measures’ is the annual meetings between the RPM and the UK nuclear regulators, namely the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. The issue of radioactive particles on the beach near Sellafield has been one of the issues discussed at each of the annual meetings with the Environment Agency since 2005. We have been kept updated by the Environment Agency on the particles found, in terms of both location and characterisation of the particles. Based on the location and radioactive content of the finds to date, we are satisfied that the particles currently pose no risk to the population of Ireland or the Irish marine environment but we are continuing to monitor the situation.
I hope this information is helpful to the Celtic League. If you have further nqueries, please feel free to contact me again and I will do my best to address them. I note that you published a copy of your letter to me on your website and would appreciate if you would also publish our response.
Related article on Celtic News here:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
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