Thursday, March 21, 2002

Sellafield is preparing to clean up its act over the radioactive technetium that has caused concern to Norway's fishing industry.

BNFL is this week keeping a watching brief at a conference of top ministers, in Bergen, at which Sellafield will be high on the agenda. Last week Sellafield chiefs said they were studying ways to remove the radioactive contamination that has been pumped into the sea.

Rex Strong, Sellafield's head of environmental management said: "The Environment Agency says it wishes us to reduce the discharges and divert the technetium into the vitrification plant. We can see what is coming, so we have started drawing up safety cases for dealing with technetium.''

Peter Foley, representing GMB workers, was among union leaders who have met their opposite numbers in the Norwegian trade unions. He said one issue that the Sellafield unions were watching was whether storing the technetium at Sellafield increased any risks of worker doses.

Sellafield press spokesman, Jamie Reed, added: "Norway's seafood sales have actually been increasing.'' He also said discharges from Norway's own oil and gas industry produced enhanced levels of radioactivity.

John Fleming, of the Amicus-MSF union, added: "We met the Norwegians to discuss their concerns. We tried to allay their fears and said we wanted to find a responsible way forward that balanced the perception that there might be an effect on their fishing industry and our concerns that worker doses don't suffer through storage of the technetium on site.''