Radiation emisssions from Sizewell B being studied

MEMBERS of a nuclear site liaison group are studying official accounts of radiation emissions during the last period when Sizewell B was shut down for re-fuelling and maintenance.

Concern about so far unexplained above-average incidence of childhood leukaemia around nuclear reactors in Germany and France has led to suggestions from critics of atomic energy that there may be a link with the 'spikes' in radiation emissions which usually occur when reactors are temporarily shut down for refuelling.

Official figures show that radiation emissions from Sizewell B – calculated on a monthly and annual basis – are well within statutory limits.

But some members of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) – set up to improve liaison between the nuclear site, its regulators and the local community – have been pressing for detailed information on the increase in emissions of some radionuclides during the shutdowns, known as outages.

A list of questions has been posed by members concerned there could be a raised health risk during outages – held every 18 months and lasting about three weeks.

EDF Energy, which owns Sizewell B, has now provided data which has been circulated to SSG members.

Pete Wilkinson, an SSG member and father of two children, who has been at the forefront of calls for more information, said: 'These replies from EDF require careful scrutiny, but at first glance they appear to be mostly copies of the notifications they send to the Environment Agency.

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'I cannot see immediately where all the SSG questions have been answered. Given that it has taken three months for EDF to produce data which we are told is kept on file, it is disappointing.'

An EDF spokesman said: 'EDF Energy is committed to openness and transparency. As such, there are well-established procedures for power stations such as Sizewell B to provide detailed technical data – on issues such as emissions – to the public and groups such as the SSG through the Environment Agency, as the official monitoring body.

'The information is published on the Environment Agency website and the SSG gets regular reports from the agency at its meetings.'

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