Community Concern, Cardiff

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NA's Review of Authorisations

Tritium

Key Issues EA

 
APPLICATION FOR VARIATION IN AUTHORISATIONS FROM THE Environment Agency by the Cardiff Laboratories of Nycomed Amersham



Nycomed Amersham have applied to the Environment Agency for the four yearly review of their discharge and transfer operations (first issued in 1995 following review in 1994) .

In 1999 the Environment Agency recommended that Nycomed Amersham reduced their discharges. Nycomed Amersham will now apply to the Environment Agency for a reduction in allowed discharge levels, but will not be actually reducing discharges.

The Company has announced that they will also outline proposals for a discharge reduction programme in the future. This was first announced with a press release
On March 2nd. 1999 following the acceptance of a petition of concern from Cardiff residents by the European Parliament at the high level of radioactive discharges from the Cardiff site of Nycomed Amersham. In the Press Release NA announced that
‘it is planning to introduce a new technology which would cut radioactive discharges from its Whitchurch, Cardiff site by at least 505 over the next three years (i.e. by 2002).If all goes to plan we expect by the end of 2001 we will have cut our discharges by at least half and possibly more’ . The timescale for reductions increased. In November 1999, site Director, Dr Vic Chambers wrote to Community Concern stating that the reductions would form part of the ‘next four yearly round of authorisations.’ These much publicised reductions do not, once more, form part of the four yearly review of authorisations.

Points from the current application
No reductions in current authorisation period.
Consultation to be managed by Environment Agency.
NA ask ‘acceptance’ by Regulators to be justified by their practice on site.
Increased volumes of waste.
Additional disposal routes for solid and organic liquid waste.
Two new disposal points on site.
Company will continue to monitor new technologies.
A comment that OSPAR is not government policy. (incorrect).
NA have exceeded limits once in the last five years.
Seek an increase in volume to Shanks Chemical Services, South Hampton. (From 150 m to 450 m of solid waste)
NA have been retaining waste since May 1998 when high levels of bio-accumulation of tritium were found ‘unexpectedly’ in fish and marine life in the Estuary and eels and silt in the Taff. (More recent monitoring has found extremely high levels of radioactivity in Shelducks and other wildfowl showing that other species – warm blooded – accumulate tritium).
NA will include their research into tritium levels in the marine environment in a non-peer reviewed paper in the appendix of the main document of their Application.
NA request that they can ‘resume’ discharges.
OCD (Ortho Clinical Diagnostics) who lease some of the operational buildings on the Nycomed Amersham site will cease working with radioactive materials. On cessation of this operation, Nycomed mersham request that they take-over use of stack Z/Z as discharge route.
Liquid waste is discharged to public sewer and enters Severn Estuary. An experimental programme is being undertaken is being undertaken to determine the activity retained in sewage sludge.
Airborne waste is currently discharged from ventilation stacks W, X, and Y


The UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges 2000 – 2001 states that ‘The Environment Agency will carry out reviews every four years in England. (see page 17). ‘Separate guidance will be provided for other areas’.

To make the current consultation procedure on the Nycomed Amersham application a meaningful procedure, the National Assembly for Wales should uphold policy. ( The current Review has gone on for six years rather than the statutory four years).