HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc914-5W
Mr. Simon Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what progress has been made towards reducing levels of radioactive discharges and of additional contamination in the marine environment by 2020; and if she will make a statement; [123744]

(2) what the level was of radioactivity discharged into the marine environment by type and location in each year since 1998; [123745]

(3) what progress the Government have made towards achieving reductions of discharges, emissions and losses of radioactive substances as agreed during the 1998 meeting of environment Ministers at Sintra; [123746]

(4) what the level of radioactive discharges from Sellafield has been in each of the last five years by type; and what the projected level is for the next five years. [123748]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 7 July 2003]: There have been large and sustained reductions in discharges of the most radiologically significant radionuclides in the last 25 years, particularly those resulting from reprocessing nuclear fuel, such that current discharges from that sector are currently just 1 per cent. of their peak levels in the 1970s. The Government are committed to achieving further reductions in discharges by 2020 in order to implement the OSPAR Strategy with regard to Radioactive Substances, which was agreed by Ministers at Sintra in 1998. A UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges, 2001–20, was published in July 2002, which sets out how we shall achieve these further reductions and includes broad projections for future discharges from each sector of the nuclear industry. Key milestones are the cessation of Magnox fuel and uranium hexafluoride production at Springfields by 2006 and the end of Magnox fuel reprocessing at Sellafield by around 2012. The document is in the Library and is available on the Defra website at: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/ radioactivity/discharge/strategy/index.htm.

Detailed information on radioactive discharges and environmental concentrations, by type of radionuclide and location, can be found in the annual publication, Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE), produced jointly by the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Copies are in the Library and the 2002 edition (containing data for 2001) is on the Food Standards Agency's website at: www.foodstandards.gov.uk/science/suveillance/radio/ 89684.

The RIFE report for 2002 is due to be published shortly.

Discharges of total alpha, total beta (excluding tritium) and tritium from Sellafield since 1998 were as follows (figures in TBq).

Total alpha Total beta Tritium
1998 0.174 85.9 2,309
1999 0.133 110 2,520
2000 0.120 77.0 2,300
2001 0.202 123 2,600

For Sellafield, projected discharges, as annualised five year averages, are as follows (figures in TBq per year).

Period Total alpha Total beta Tritium
2001–2005 0.310 165 9,280
2006–2010 0.310 104 8,930
2011–2015 0.251 75.1 9,110
2016–2020 0.200 53.7 9,520

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