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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
Nordic protest at Sellafield emissions
Norway is worried about waste from the plant
Scandinavian politicians are to complain to Prime Minister Tony Blair about radioactive discharges from Sellafield nuclear recycling plant.

Norwegian Environment Minister Siri Bjerke has called for emissions from the British Nuclear Fuels' Ltd (BNFL) facility in Cumbria to be reduced.

Ms Bjerke said they were a threat to the environment of the North Sea and the Barents Sea.

The issue will be debated during the Barents Council meeting of Nordic ministers in Kirkenes, Norway, on 21 August.

'No significance'

It is not the first time the Norwegians have expressed concern about the long-term effects of waste from Sellafield.

There have been fears radioactive emissions carried north by sea currents could be causing damage to the country's fish farms and other parts of the environment.

However BNFL spokesman Nigel Monckton said: "We are always aware of the need to make emissions as low as possible, but the discharges around Norway are of no significance.

BNFL has spent 2bn on clean-up equipment

"Discharges from Sellafield are made under authorisations issued by the Environment Agency, based upon international limits.

"These are designed to ensure that any radiation dose received as a result of discharges will be a tiny fraction of that which is incurred through natural sources every day."

Mr Monckton said emissions reaching the Arctic region and Barents Sea contained minute radiation doses.

But Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment(CORE), said: "Everyone accepts we have to protect the environment.

"The UK should listen to the Norwegians' request as we cannot keep using the wider oceans for BNFL's waste."

Irish action

Mr Monckton said BNFL has spent 2bn at Sellafield on equipment for waste management and effluent cleaning.

He said discharges of plutonium, americium and caesium in liquid effluent from clean-up plants have been almost totally eliminated.

Earlier this year the Irish Government said it would take legal action against Britain over the possible starting-up of a plant designed to process highly-toxic mixed-oxide fuel.

Ireland wants Britain to release confidential information on the plant, which was completed four years ago but is not operatinal yet.

See also:

09 May 01 | Europe
Police guard German nuclear train
23 Apr 01 | Europe
Germany's nuclear waste headache
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