HC Deb 06 February 2002 vol 379 cc989-90W
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the levels of radioactive contamination are around UK nuclear plants; and what the best safety distance is. [25249]

Mr. Meacher

There is no simple, direct relationship between the dose arising from any radioactive discharges from UK nuclear plants and proximity to them. All radioactive discharges from UK nuclear plants are well within the national and international limit of 1 millisievert a year. In setting discharge limits, the Environment Agency has to be sure that no one would be exposed to a dose from man-made sources of ionising radiation greater than this. (There are separate dose limits for a single site and for a single new source of ionising radiation of 0.5 and 0.3 millisieverts respectively). There are no cases in the UK where any of these limits are breached. In all cases the most exposed members of the public receive a dose which is considerably below the appropriate limit.

The Environment Agency has recently published its report "Radioactivity in the Environment Report for 2000". This is the latest in a series of such reports and contains a summary and radiological assessment of the agency's monitoring programmes.

The principal conclusions were that discharges of radioactivity into the environment reported by the operators of the major sites during 2000 were well below the authorised discharge levels; concentrations of radionuclides in water, sediment, soil and grass were broadly similar to those in previous years; activity concentrations in air, rain, and sources of drinking water remained low during 2000; and all the estimated doses from radionuclides in sediment, soil and water were below the public dose limit and in many cases the estimated doses were much less than 1 per cent. of the dose limit.