Sizewell incinerator must shut down
AN INCINERATOR used at Sizewell B to dispose of solid radioactive wastes can no longer be operated, the Environment Agency has ruled.The wastes, only slightly contaminated with radioactivity, will have to be either incinerated elsewhere or shredded, compressed and transported by road to the national radioactive waste dump at Drigg in Cumbria.
By David Green
AN INCINERATOR used at Sizewell B to dispose of solid radioactive wastes can no longer be operated, the Environment Agency has ruled.
The wastes, only slightly contaminated with radioactivity, will have to be either incinerated elsewhere or shredded, compressed and transported by road to the national radioactive waste dump at Drigg in Cumbria.
The decision, which will substantially increase waste disposal costs, follows a review of all British Energy nuclear power station emissions authorisations.
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The Sizewell B incinerator has been used for solid low level radioactive waste since the station began operating in 1997.
The waste includes materials used for cleaning, together with paper, wood and gloves - anything solid that may have been slightly contaminated through being in a controlled radiation area of the plant.
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Paul Naylor, Sizewell B inspector for the Environment Agency, said emissions from the incinerator had been extremely low.
“However, operators have to provide continuing justification for the use of such technology,” he said.
British Energy had withdrawn its request for the use of a similar incinerator at its Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire, on the grounds that it was not the best technology, he said.
This had led to renewed scrutiny of the Sizewell B incinerator which was of the same type.
Mr Naylor said Sizewell B still had permission to burn slightly contaminated waste oil as there was no practical alternative.
The decision does not affect the continuing operation of smaller incinerators at the Sizewell A and Bradwell nuclear power stations, now both being decommissioned.
A British Energy spokeswoman said the company fully agreed with the agency's “prudent” decision.
“However, we would like to emphasise that there has never been any emissions from the incinerator which have affected air quality in the area,” she said.
The spokeswoman said it was likely that solid low level waste would be transported to an industrial incinerator at Hythe in Kent which did have the relevant authorisation from the agency.
Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said: “Sending the waste to Drigg would probably be the least worst solution. Everything to do with nuclear power is adopting the least worst solution.”