Response to Defra and devolved administrations' consultation on their draft UK strategy for radioactive discharges 2006-2030
The Environment Agency welcomes the Government’s consultation on the draft UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges 2006-2030 (“the strategy”).
The strategy will form the second UK National Plan.
Additionally, it will provide a more robust and up- to-date framework, to shape industry and environmental regulators’ approaches to the management of discharges over the period to 2030.
We believe that this strategy will continue to deliver the progressive and substantial reductions in discharges to which the UK is committed, and we welcome its revision.
The first UK radioactive discharges strategy was a major consideration during our reviews of nuclear sites’ radioactive discharge authorisations over the period 2001-2008, and provided necessary leverage to enable us to drive discharge reductions.
It also fixed the closure programmes for the older Magnox reactors and related Magnox fuel fabrication facility as well as nuclear research facilities.
Our regulatory drive achieved a ten-fold reduction in technetium-99 discharges from Sellafield during the period 2001 to 2008 and is widely perceived to be the principal success of the first strategy.
This period also saw major reductions in discharges across each of the nuclear sub-sectors.
We will be responding separately to the concurrent consultation on the statutory guidance from Defra and Welsh Assembly Government to the Environment Agency.
The strategy identifies and addresses the principal uncertainties, i.e. new nuclear build, Advanced Gas Cooled reactor life extensions, and the closure programmes for Magnox and Thorp reprocessing plants at Sellafield.
The closure programmes for Magnox and Thorp reprocessing plants have major implications for the strategy and the UK’s discharge profiles.
The closure of these two plants is now the principal focus of international attention, and the credibility of the strategy depends on how these issues are dealt with.
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