Radioactive discharges from Sizewell C under the microscope

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy

A CGI of what the Sizewell C nuclear power station will look like Picture: EDF Energy - Credit: Archant

EDF Energy has applied to the Environment Agency for three environmental permits required to operate Sizewell C.

The applications are part of the process for the power plant and follow the company’s Development Consent Order application to the Planning Inspectorate for permission to build, and its application to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for a nuclear site licence.

Government will make the final decision on the project once it has been thoroughly examined by the planning process. Opponents are gearing up for a huge fight over the coming months, claiming the site is the wrong place for the project, which they say is not needed and will have a huge impact on tourism and the environment.

Twelve weeks’ consultation on the environmental permits begins today, July 6, at 7am.

READ MORE: Another mileston for Sizewell C projectThe permits cover the controls that EDF needs to put into place to ensure high standards of environmental protection during commissioning, operation and decommissioning of Sizewell C – specifically for disposals and discharges of radioactive wastes as all nuclear power stations discharge tiny amounts; operation of standby power supply systems using diesel generators; and discharges of cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea.

They do not cover the impact on ecology and water in nearby precious wildlife sites as this is part of the Planning Inspectorate’s role, or the demand for water which falls to Essex and Suffolk Water which will prepare a plan to show how demand can be fulfilled and work with the Environment Agency


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The Environment Agency must decide whether to grant or refuse the issue of the permits. If it grants a permit, the Environment Agency can include conditions to ensure proper protection of people and the environment.

The agency’s Nuclear New Build Project Manager, Simon Barlow, said:“As these applications relate to the disposal and discharge of radioactive waste; operation of standby power supply systems using diesel generators; and discharges of cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea they will all have implications for the environment and should be rigorously examined – hence our consultation.

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“After we have reviewed the applications, our next stage will be to conduct a further consultation on our draft decisions, when members of the public will have another opportunity to provide us with their comments.”

“We appreciate that there are currently limitations on people’s movements and accessibility challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we will be taking measures to ensure everyone can have access to the relevant documents and direct contact with Environment Agency officers, to ask questions and discuss their concerns.”

The environmental permit applications for Sizewell C can be viewed here and the link goes live on Monday, July 6 at 7am as the consultation opens.

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