The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) All Ireland Forum has read with interest the Environment Protection Agency’s report on health and environmental impacts from a major accident to the Sellafield facility, and has real concerns about it in a number of key areas. This second EPA report follows on from an earlier report of the economic impacts of a nuclear accident affecting Ireland. It noted in the worst case scenario an accident could cost Ireland €161 billion. The EPA report, ‘Potential radiological impact on Ireland of postulated severe accidents at Sellafield’, assessed the potential radiological impact on Ireland of a range of severe hypothetical accident scenarios at the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. It notes that the hypothetical accident scenarios studied were those identified in a risk assessment of Sellafield commissioned by the Irish Government as having the greatest potential to have an impact on Ireland. The report found that for each of the accident scenarios that were considered, the predicted radiation doses were found to be below the levels which would give rise to sheltering, relocation or the evacuation of people being required. The EPA does though note that without appropriate food controls, significant radiation doses could occur in the year following the accident through the consumption of contaminated foods. The EPA notes that Ireland’s National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents (NEPNA) would introduce food controls and on-farm measures, as appropriate, to reduce radiation doses from this pathway and ensure all food for sale is safe to eat. The EPA asserts that this highlights the importance of the introduction of effective food controls as highlighted in NEPNA. EPA argue that while protective actions have been shown to be very effective in controlling radioactivity levels in foods for sale, and hence radiation doses to people, they do have significant socio-economic implications and costs. The NFLA’s representative to the EPA’s Radiation Issues Committee, Paul Dorfman, has considered the report. He first notes that the EPA Report is actually based on a risk assessment developed by the Sellafield site. He also notes that: The report does not take into consideration the key issue – the so-called ‘beyond design-based cascading accidents’ – involved in all major nuclear accidents so far.
NFLA 9th Dec 2016 read more »