Recycling and resource management company SITA UK will submit today an application for a Radioactive Substances Act (RSA) disposal authorisation for its Clifton Marsh landfill site near Preston.
The site has been accepting low level and very low level radioactive waste (LLW and VLLW) for disposal since 1986, under authorisations held by the waste producers.
Recently, the Environment Agency – the national regulator – has changed its policy and in future waste site operators, like SITA UK, wishing to dispose of VLLW and LLW will need their own disposal authorisations.
The submission shows that over three quarters of the landfill site’s capacity has already been reached, and states that no more than ten per cent of the remaining quarter will be used to dispose of low level nuclear waste. The remainder will be made up of general household and commercial waste.
These disposals are strictly controlled on site where they follow a rigorous disposal procedure*. The process is also fully regulated and stringently monitored by the Environment Agency.
Phil Holland, Decommissioning Development Manager for SITA UK said: "The company has an excellent track record in handling this type of waste on site for the last 22 years and has well-established safety and security procedures to ensure it is disposed of appropriately at all times. We maintain extremely high technical standards and are highly respected in the industry for the professional service we provide."
Earlier this year the company announced provisional plans for the site and began a range of engagement activity to give local people, community organisations and political representatives a chance to look at and comment on its plans.
It held two public exhibitions in Freckleton in July and also distributed leaflets and posters around the area to inform people about the proposals and established a special website – www.cliftonmarsh.co.uk, so people could look at the plans. Members of the local parish council toured the site to see operations at first hand.
Since then SITA UK has undertaken a detailed risk assessment and developed a comprehensive set of operating procedures, both designed to meet tough national and European standards, which have now been submitted to the Environment Agency as part of the application.
Phil Holland commented: "I’d like to thank everyone who has attended any of our community engagement sessions. Many people were very comfortable with our proposal, but some people did have some concerns about the plans. In many cases we were able to put people’s fears to rest, and I hope that now we have completed a detailed risk assessment of the project and outlined our operating procedures that even more people will be reassured by the plans."
Rob Scott from SITA UK’s nuclear consultants Nuvia, said: "This application is in line with the government’s radioactive waste policy, which is that controlled burial of radioactive waste from nuclear sites in a conventional landfill is acceptable, as long as it is proved to be safe and the best environmental option and is fully authorised and approved by the regulator, which in this case is the Environment Agency."
The site currently has planning permission to operate until 2012. However, increased recycling and reduced waste inputs have led SITA UK to make an application to Lancashire County Council asking for a delay to the end date for tipping operations at the site until 31 December 2020. This application will be considered by the council’s planning committee on 4 November.
The time extension would enable the approved restoration levels to be achieved and avoid the need to intensify waste disposal by diverting waste from other landfill sites in the region. The planning application does not seek to enlarge the area or extent of landfilling operations.