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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 10:15 GMT
Norway keeps up Sellafield pressure
Sellafield plant, Cumbria
The delegation will meet BNFL managers and workers
Politicians from Norway are visiting Sellafield nuclear plant on Wednesday to discuss their fears about emissions.

They are particularly concerned about the drift of a radioactive substance called technicium-99 into the North Sea, which they say is damaging Norwegian fish stocks.

A cross-party group of 18 members from the Scandinavian country's major political parties are carrying out a fact-finding mission at the plant.

But a spokesman at the British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL)-run plant said the discharges met UK government and Environment Agency limits.

Technicium-99 does not cause any problem to fish stocks or aquamarine life

Jamie Read, BNFL

In December Norwegain environment minister, Borge Brende, visited West Cumbria - the points he raised will again be aired by the visiting delegation.

Mr Brende said: "We are focusing on Sellafield's discharges of technicium-99 and on the level of radioactivity going into the Irish Sea.

"It remains a contaminant for a very long time, and I am very concerned about Britain's plans to allow these discharge levels to continue unchanged up until 2006.

"We're now finding technicium-99 in seaweed along Norway's west coast, and in Svalbard, in the high Arctic."

Drastic cut

But BNFL spokesman Jamie Read, told BBC News Online: "We are reducing the amount of technicium-99 into the sea, and the levels are at 1% of what they were in the mid-1970s.

"We adhere to all the discharge limits set out by the government and Environment Agency.

"Technicium-99 has very low radiotoxicity level as far as radio-isotopes go.

A woman joins the protest, PA
Ireland has also protested about discharges

"There is a body of research which shows it doesn't cause any problem to fish stocks or aquamarine life."

The Environment Agency has recommended a drastic cut in the amount of technicium-99 discharged into the sea every year, to take effect from 2006.

The government has still to make a final decision on the proposed reduction.

Norwegian representatives from the Progress Party, the Socialist Left, the Christian Democrats, and others, will meet the head of the BNFL site, Brian Watson, and officials from Copeland Council.

They will also talk to community groups and trade unionists at the plant, as well as members of the protest group, Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (Core).

Radioactive discharges are regulated under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, which is enforced by the Environment Agency.

Click here to go to BBC Cumbria
See also:

08 Jan 02 | Wales
'No risk' from Sellafield plans
19 Dec 01 | Sci/Tech
Norway demands UK nuclear rethink
17 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Irish appeal over nuclear plant
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