Radiation found near power station

AN ENFORCEMENT notice has been served on the Sizewell B nuclear power station following the discovery of radioactive particles in liquid waste being discharged into the sea.

AN ENFORCEMENT notice has been served on the Sizewell B nuclear power station following the discovery of radioactive particles in liquid waste being discharged into the sea.

Both British Energy and the Environment Agency said there had been no hazard to the public or to the environment.

However, the agency has now issued a formal notice requiring the company to overhaul all the equipment used to filter and monitor discharges.

Deficient filters are being blamed for the problem which occurred in June and was reported to the agency by the nuclear company.

It has a licence to discharge liquids containing very low levels of radioactivity but regulations insist that particles, from resins used in the reactor cooling process, are filtered out.

While British Energy was already taking action to resolve the problem, the Environment Agency has decided to issue a formal enforcement notice.

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"British Energy is generally a very responsible operator but there is, rightly, a very low tolerance on nuclear sites if processes are not operated correctly," said Paul Naylor, the agency's nuclear regulator for Sizewell B.

"Although these events do not present a hazard to the public they demonstrate that British Energy must improve certain aspects of their operations.

"Proper maintenance of equipment associated with radioactive discharges is of the utmost importance and is required by a condition of the agency's authorisation."

Mr Naylor said his colleagues covering other nuclear installations had been informed of the problems at Sizewell B and would be checking that there were not similar problems elsewhere.

Martin Pearce, Sizewell B spokesman, said any particles which had been discharged would have soon been stripped of their radioactive properties by the natural action of the sea.

"They would pose no radiological hazard to public or environment," he said.

Mr Pearce said as a result of the discovery of particles in the samples taken from the outflow all associated tanks and the filtration system had been checked and the discharge route shown to be clear of further resin particles.

"Further work and checks have been carried out on the appropriate filtration system to demonstrate that it has remained clear of resin since the original events," he added.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said Sizewell B was the most modern of Britain's nuclear power stations and was regarded by British Energy as its flagship, so problems there were of special concern.

"The Environment Agency has shown again that it is lily-livered and weak by not ordering the plant to be shut down until remedial actions have been completed," he said.

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