Is the Environment Agency Responsible for Safety of Radioactive Wastes on the Cumbrian Mud Patch?

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Dear Environment Agency,

I asked the following question to Radioactive Waste Management and they have directed me to you and Sellafield.

Who is responsible for the decades of radioactive discharge on the "Cumbrian Mud Patch"
...a large area of seabed, also known as the Irish Sea or Sellafield Mudpatch, associated with historic (and ongoing) discharges from the Sellafield site ?

In the likely event of subsidence following mined out voids beneath the Cumbrian Mud Patch who would be accountable for the plutonium and other radioactive wastes which would be resuspended into the sea and returned to the coastal areas with the tides?

Would that responsibility for allowing the coal mine to induce subsidence of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and resulting resuspension of radioactive wastes lie with the Environment Agency?

Yours faithfully,

Marianne Birkby

Enquiries, Unit, Environment Agency

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Enquiries, Unit, Environment Agency

Good Morning Marianne

I have passed your e-mail to the local customer team who will deal with your request.

The Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations state that a public authority must respond to requests for information within 20 working days.

However due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting staff and resources we may take longer than the 20 working days to reply. We will aim to provide an answer as soon as we can.

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https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

You can contact our customer team directly on the contact details below, or call the National Customer Contact Centre on 03708 506506 who will transfer you to the area team.

Please quote your enquiry reference 201118/JH04 in any correspondence with us regarding this matter.

Customers & engagement team
Environment Agency
Cumbria and Lancashire ( Penrith office ) Email address - [email address]

Kind regards

Jamie Hallam
Customer Service Adviser
Environment Agency

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CMBLNC Info Requests, Environment Agency

Hello Marianne

Thank you for contacting the Environment Agency regarding responsibility for safety for radioactive wastes.

As your request for information falls under either the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations we must respond to you within 20 working days.

As your request for information falls under either the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations we are required to respond to you within 20 working days. Our Flood Risk Management teams are currently dealing with a high number of requests and our response to enquiries and correspondence is taking much longer than we would like and we can only apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

We have sent your request to the relevant team and will be in touch with you as soon as we can.

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If you need to contact us in the meantime, please do not hesitate to do so using the details below and quoting reference number CL194083MG

Yours sincerely,

Customers and Engagement Team
Cumbria and Lancashire

Information in this message may be confidential and may be legally privileged. If you have received this message by mistake, please notify the sender immediately, delete it and do not copy it to anyone else. We have checked this email and its attachments for viruses. But you should still check any attachment before opening it. We may have to make this message and any reply to it public if asked to under the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act or for litigation. Email messages and attachments sent to or from any Environment Agency address may also be accessed by someone other than the sender or recipient, for business purposes.

CMBLNC Info Requests, Environment Agency

Dear Marianne

Enquiry regarding responsibility for safety of radioactive wastes on the Cumbrian mud patch

Thank you for your enquiry which we received on 16 November 2020.

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Answers to your questions are as follows.

Who is responsible for the decades of radioactive discharge on the "Cumbrian Mud Patch"?

There are a number of sites that have permitted discharges into the Irish Sea in England, Scotland and Wales. The dominant sources of radioactive discharges along the Cumbrian coast are from Sellafield Ltd (and its predecessors) and, in the past, naturally occurring radioactive materials from a former phosphate processing plant near Whitehaven in Cumbria. The Environment Agency regulates the discharge of radioactive waste into the environment by Sellafield Ltd in accordance with an environmental permit. The conditions in this permit are designed to protect people and the environment by ensuring that any radiation exposure that may result from such discharges is kept below legal radiation dose limits. For example, the environmental permit requires Sellafield Ltd to monitor radiation levels from its site discharges, including discharges to sea, and any effects of radioactivity on the environment. Sellafield Ltd publishes an annual discharge and environmental monitoring report. We conduct independent environmental monitoring which is published in the Radioactivity in Food and Environment report series: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....
Further details about how we regulate the site and how monitoring is carried out is available at this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sellafield-n...

In the likely event of subsidence following mined out voids beneath the Cumbrian Mud Patch who would be accountable for the plutonium and other radioactive wastes which would be resuspended into the sea and returned to the coastal areas with the tides?

If resuspension from the ‘Cumbrian Mud Patch’ occurs as part of natural processes, the monitoring programmes conducted by Sellafield Ltd and ourselves will ensure that we keep any changes in radioactivity levels in the environment under review. You may be interested in the attached scientific paper which provides further information on the likely impact of storm surges. We are not in a position to comment on the impact of mining on the Irish Sea bed (see next question).

Would that responsibility for allowing the coal mine to induce subsidence of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and resulting resuspension of radioactive wastes lie with the Environment Agency?
The integrity of any coal mining operation will be regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and the Coal Authority.

Please refer to Open Government Licence which explains the permitted use of this information.

Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

Yours sincerely,

Customers and Engagement Team
Cumbria and Lancashire

Information in this message may be confidential and may be legally privileged. If you have received this message by mistake, please notify the sender immediately, delete it and do not copy it to anyone else. We have checked this email and its attachments for viruses. But you should still check any attachment before opening it. We may have to make this message and any reply to it public if asked to under the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act or for litigation. Email messages and attachments sent to or from any Environment Agency address may also be accessed by someone other than the sender or recipient, for business purposes.

CMBLNC Info Requests, Environment Agency

1 Attachment

 

Dear Marianne

 

Enquiry regarding responsibility for safety of radioactive wastes on the
Cumbrian mud patch

 

Thank you for your enquiry which we received on 16 November 2020.

 

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

 

Answers to your questions are as follows.

 

Who is responsible for the decades of radioactive discharge on the
"Cumbrian Mud Patch"?

 

There are a number of sites that have permitted discharges into the Irish
Sea in England, Scotland and Wales. The dominant sources of radioactive
discharges along the Cumbrian coast are from Sellafield Ltd (and its
predecessors) and, in the past, naturally occurring radioactive materials
from a former phosphate processing plant near Whitehaven in Cumbria. The
Environment Agency regulates the discharge of radioactive waste into the
environment by Sellafield Ltd in accordance with an environmental permit.
The conditions in this permit are designed to protect people and the
environment by ensuring that any radiation exposure that may result from
such discharges is kept below legal radiation dose limits. For example,
the environmental permit requires Sellafield Ltd to monitor radiation
levels from its site discharges, including discharges to sea, and any
effects of radioactivity on the environment. Sellafield Ltd publishes an
annual discharge and environmental monitoring report. We conduct
independent environmental monitoring which is published in the
Radioactivity in Food and Environment report series:
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

Further details about how we regulate the site and how monitoring is
carried out is available at this link:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sellafield-n...

 

 

In the likely event of subsidence following mined out voids beneath the
Cumbrian Mud Patch who would be accountable for the plutonium and other
radioactive wastes which would be resuspended into the sea and returned to
the coastal areas with the tides?

 

If resuspension from the ‘Cumbrian Mud Patch’ occurs as part of natural
processes, the monitoring programmes conducted by Sellafield Ltd and
ourselves will ensure that we keep any changes in radioactivity levels in
the environment under review. You may be interested in the attached
scientific paper which provides further information on the likely impact
of storm surges. We are not in a position to comment on the impact of
mining on the Irish Sea bed (see next question).

 

Would that responsibility for allowing the coal mine to induce subsidence
of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and resulting resuspension of radioactive wastes
lie with the Environment Agency?

The integrity of any coal mining operation will be regulated by the Health
and Safety Executive and the Coal Authority.

 

Please refer to Open Government Licence which explains the permitted use
of this information.

 

Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within
two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Customers and Engagement Team

Cumbria and Lancashire

 

Information in this message may be confidential and may be legally
privileged. If you have received this message by mistake, please notify
the sender immediately, delete it and do not copy it to anyone else. We
have checked this email and its attachments for viruses. But you should
still check any attachment before opening it. We may have to make this
message and any reply to it public if asked to under the Freedom of
Information Act, Data Protection Act or for litigation. Email messages and
attachments sent to or from any Environment Agency address may also be
accessed by someone other than the sender or recipient, for business
purposes.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
2. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sellafield-n...