The Health and Safety Executive Nuclear Directorate (HSE/ND) have confirmed that they do not monitor storm drains at the Sellafield site for possible leakage of contaminants.
The information has finally been provided to the League after an earlier inconclusive exchange of correspondence in which the Directorate appeared to evade a clear response on the matter (see link below):
However the Directorate insist that this was not the case in the latest communication to the League set out below:
“12 March 2010
Dear Mr Moffatt
Ref: Cumbria flooding — November 2009
Thank you for your letter dated 25 February 2010. I apologise that you felt my previous letter did not address the question asked. I hope the information below will give you a more informative response as to why it was advised, after consulting with the Environment Agency to contact them for a response.
Nuclear Directorate (ND) & Environment Agency (EA) have a Memorandum of Understanding (M0U) which is a signed high-level document that enables decisions to be made on which organisation takes primary and secondary responsibilities over particular nuclear issues. In the situation to which your questions relate, it was decided that EA has primary responsibility and ND has secondary responsibility. It is not that ND is evading your questions – it is rather that your questions relate more to LA’s ambit of activity and therefore EA are better placed to answer them.
As regards to ND’s role, your questions relate to storm drains. These are not monitored for radioactivity. Licencees’ Arrangements for Licence Compliance concentrate on the maintenance of containment integrity of nuclear plant and facilities, together with the adequacy of monitoring/detection of any leak and escape from such containment. Arrangements centre on the detection of any leaks or escapes as close to containment barriers as possible. Furthermore monitoring storm drains would neither be effective nor practicable.
ND & EA are currently working closely together to ensure that the Sellafield site optimise their arrangements for leak and escape prevention, so that the risk of any significant leakage is minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
I hope this is sufficient in answering your query. However if you do require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.
Deputy ND FOIA Officer
Whilst the Celtic League welcome the more detailed HSE/ND response and in particular the assurance contained in the penultimate paragraph we are concerned that they believe the monitoring of storm water outfalls is not practical.
As we pointed out to the HSE/ND in our earlier correspondence the issue of leakage of contaminants from storm water outfalls has been problematic at other nuclear sites.