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Sellafield

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

(1) what steps she has taken to ensure that there is no contamination of drinking water from the leaks from the sludge storage tanks in Building B241 at Sellafield;

(2) what action she has taken and when since she was informed that the sludge storage tanks in Building B241 at Sellafield were leaking;

(3) when she was first informed that the sludge storage tanks in Building B241 at Sellafield were leaking.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, then part of the Department of the Environment, became aware of the suspected leakage from B241 around 1993.

I understand that BNFL has confirmed that technetium-99 (Tc-99) has been detected in groundwater from boreholes in and around the Sellafield site which probably originate from the leaks from the B24l sludge storage tanks. Having carried out an assessment of the radiological impact, the Environment Agency is satisfied that this would be insignificant. The groundwater at Sellafield is not used for drinking water supplies. The agency has carried out additional monitoring of local surface waters and has not detected Tc-99

Remedial action to eliminate the leaks is the responsibility of BNFL. The Environment Agency has requested BNFL to undertake monitoring to confirm the point of leakage and will work with the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to consider any regulatory action.

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