Anger over power station decision
A DECISION to allow burning of contaminated waste at a decommissioned nuclear power station has been branded “criminally irresponsible”.Richard Bramhall, of the Low Level Radiation Campaign and a Government committee member, accused the Environment Agency of acting on flawed science by granting permission for Bradwell power station to begin burning toxic waste.
A DECISION to allow burning of contaminated waste at a decommissioned nuclear power station has been branded “criminally irresponsible”.
Richard Bramhall, of the Low Level Radiation Campaign and a Government committee member, accused the Environment Agency of acting on flawed science by granting permission for Bradwell power station to begin burning toxic waste.
He said the organisation's move could expose worried residents on Mersea Island to unknown levels of radioactivity.
The power station's Davair incinerator became active on Tuesday night - more than two years after the Environment Agency granted permission to the plant's owners, British Nuclear Fuels Group (BNFL).
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The operation, which involves burning thousands of gallons of solvents, scintillants - crude oil derivatives - and trace-active oils, is expected to last more than two years.
The incinerator will be active only from sunset to sunrise during the next three months, but after that the nuclear company could extend operations into daylight hours.
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However residents on Mersea Island, across the River Blackwater from the station, which is halfway through its de-fuelling process, have long been worried about radiation exposure.
Bobby Teague, who has led the protests, said last night: “Would you dare open your window with all this burning going on?
“We're extremely concerned and angry. I just don't trust the Bradwell owners.”
But Mr Bramhall, who sat on the CERRIE committee (Committee Examining the Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters), said: “The Environment Agency has a legal duty to use the best available science and yet they are allowing BNFL to dump their rubbish into the environment on the basis of a scientific model, which a UK government committee and the International Commission on Radiological Protection have shown to be invalid.
“This is criminally irresponsible. The total radiation content of the waste may be within limits, but it's the concentration of the emissions which is dangerous.
“It's a bit like being all right sitting in front of a warm fire, but if you were to eat one of the coals, it would kill you.”
However, Paul Naylor, the Environment Agency inspector responsible for Bradwell, said: “We follow advice from Government experts.
“We would not have authorised burning if it we were not convinced if it was not a safe and appropriate method.
“The maximum radiation dose received by people close to the site as a result of the burner's discharges, in a year, is similar to that received from natural background radiation every few minutes.
“The radiation dose received by residents of West Mersea will be even smaller.”
And Robin Thornton, Bradwell power station spokesman, insisted the waste was “perfectly safe” and added: “Do people really think that we would do anything that puts people's health at risk?
“This is extremely low level stuff that's being burnt.We've had lots of discussions with people in West Mersea and we've listened to their concerns.
“We have no option, but to incinerate, but obviously from everyone's point of view, the quicker we get rid of the waste the better.”